MORE than 10,000 children have checked in to Carmarthenshire schools so far. This includes 6,144 primary school children and 4,226 secondary school pupils, according to council figures for last week.

Some pupils have attended school more than once – with the total number of check-ins for last week exceeding 14,000.

There are approximately 28,000 pupils registered in Carmarthenshire schools and these figures show around 38% of pupils attended school last week.

All pupils are being given the opportunity to check-in, catch up and prepare before the summer holidays and the new school year in September.

Schools across the county have reported that both staff and pupils have been happy to return and that safety measures that had been put in place have been a success.

Children have been split into smaller groups and schools are operating staggered break times, and start and finish times. There are also separate entrances and exits, and one-way systems where possible to help with social distancing.

High touch surfaces are being cleaned regularly throughout the school day, with a full clean taking place every evening. There are hand-sanitisers in every classroom and portable handwashing stations where needed.

Children are being encouraged to safely walk, cycle or scoot to school, or for parents to provide transport, as school transport is operating at a limited capacity.

School meals are not being provided this term and pupils who are in school for a full day are being asked to bring in a packed lunch.

Headteacher of Llangunnor Primary School Aled Davies said: “Being able to greet pupils back this week has been exciting. Seeing them smile and as they saw their friends and staff was wonderful. It has been a strange time for us all and the school building looks rather different than it did three months ago, I would like to thank the staff for their hard work and dedication in preparing the school.

“I think we were all, children, parents, and staff, a bit apprehensive on Monday but the new measures and routines have worked successfully and have allowed us to welcome the children back in a safe and organised manner. The atmosphere during the week has been welcoming and comfortable with all the children eager to share their stories and experiences and having a lovely day.

“A very high percentage of our families have decided to send their children back and we have been able to fulfil the Welsh Government’s aspiration that all statutory age pupils have an opportunity to return for three sessions in school before the summer break.”

Headteacher of Ysgol Dyffryn Taf in Whitland Julian Kennedy said: “The return of pupils to Dyffryn Taf has been a great experience. Staff and pupils have been delighted to see each other again.

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“Everyone has worked incredibly hard to build a safe, inclusive, and positive learning environment, all whilst maintaining a distance learning programme.

“Pupils have been able to check-in with form tutors, get reassurance and advice, and make sure they are ready for whatever September might bring.

“Most importantly though, we have given staff the freedom to be creative and to try new things. Our pupils have been learning on screens for three months now – when they are on-site, we want them to do something different. So, as well as maintaining their literacy, numeracy, and wellbeing, pupils have been out in the fresh air orienteering, playing team-building games or simply building up their skills and fitness on Just Dance!

“Attendance has been really pleasing and everyone, both staff and pupils, have left with a smile on their faces. We very much hope we can devote one or two days at the start of the new academic year to finish the transition programme for Year 6 pupils that we were unable to complete this summer.

“The Governing body, staff, pupils, and their families and the local authority have combined excellently to achieve a huge amount in a short space of time. We all want to get back to normal as soon as it is safe to do so, but until then we are delighted with how the ‘new normal’ is going.”

Children that are shielding or are living with someone in this group should not come back this term and should continue learning at home.

Parents who choose not to send their children back will not be fined and will also continue to receive support with home learning.

The school term finishes on July 17

Executive Board Member for Education and Children’s Services Cllr Glynog Davies said: “I am delighted that pupils and staff have had such a great first week back at school. I think it is really important that they have had this opportunity to catch up before the summer holidays.

“I visited Ysgol Brynaman and it was wonderful to see how pleased the children were to be back seeing their friends and teachers for the first time in over three months.

“We have already started to plan for September and as soon as we have further guidance from the Welsh Government, we will be able to share these details with parents.”

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