THE smiles on these children’s faces says it all.
The youngest learners at Ysgol Carreg Hirfaen in Cwmann are happy to be back in school with their friends and teachers.
Like all children, they have been learning from home since before Christmas due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But the school has now welcomed back Foundation Phase children aged 3-7 for face-to-face learning.
Headteacher Aled Jones Evans said it was wonderful to see pupils in school again, he added: “Our younger pupils are so happy at being back in school with their friends. Most of them engaged fully in distance learning over the past few months but being back at school, back in class amongst their peers, is so much better for their learning and especially so for their emotional and mental well-being.
“Indeed, the joyful sound of children playing on the school yard echoing around the village once again is a great tonic for all of us within the community and brings us a little bit closer to a sense of normality.”
Like all schools, the safety measures in place have been reviewed in line with Welsh Government’s latest operational guidance.
Staggered start and finish times, classroom bubbles and frequent handwashing/sanitising, social distancing and face coverings are now part of the new normal.
“Of course, pupil and staff safety is still of paramount importance and we go to great lengths to ensure that parents, staff and pupils adhere to our strict guidelines on social distancing, hand sanitising and the use of face coverings,” said Mr Jones Evans.
“All within our school community have embraced these many changes and the school is as covid safe as it possibly can be under the current circumstances.”
Parents are also being reminded on the importance of wearing a face covering and keeping a 2m distance from others when dropping off and collecting their children.
The school is now planning for the safe return of older children from March 15, subject to Welsh Government’s three-week review on Friday, March 12.
Mr Jones Evans said: “We are now looking forward to welcoming back our key stage 2 pupils on March 15 and our aim is to follow a similar strategy to what we used in the foundation phase in getting pupils back into school and re-engaging in quality face to face learning.”
Schools across Carmarthenshire have been welcoming back learners in a phased and flexible way. Attendance figures have increased steadily from 35% on February 23 to over 80% on March 3 as schools bring in more pupils. The aim is for all Foundation Phase children to be back in school full-time by the end of this week.
Executive Board Member for Education and Children’s Services Cllr Glynog Davies said: “I am delighted to see children back in school where they belong, playing with their friends, and in the classroom learning with their teachers.
“It is so important that children are in school for both their physical and mental development, as well as their overall wellbeing.
“Research shows that transmission rates in schools is very low; with transmission more likely in households or in the community, so it is vital we continue to follow the rules to keep our schools safe, and to keep them open so that we can welcome even more children back to the classroom.
“I want to thank all our schools and teaching staff for all their hard work, I know it has been an extremely challenging time but together we can keep our children learning and our communities safe.”
More information on schools carmarthenshire.gov.wales/education