Cowbridge Comprehensive School, Aberthin Road, Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan, CF71 7EN |

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Letter to parents, 11 September 2020

Dear Parent/Carer,
From Monday, (September 14th) the Welsh Government has mandated higher levels of preventative measures, for families across Wales, to contain the transmission of Covid-19.  Although these restrictions do not affect schools, we are now changing our advice to all pupils and staff regarding face coverings. With effect from Monday, it is recommended that pupils wear face coverings in communal and corridor areas, where social distancing, with a wider cohort of people (other than designated contact groups) is not possible. To ensure clarity around what the definition of 'contact groups' mean in a secondary school, in line with Welsh Government Operational Guidance for schools, contact groups (also referred to as bubbles) include the following:
1. Classes of pupils taught in subjects
2. Year groups of pupils
3. School transport groups
Please note that all pupils are placed in consistent seating plans across classes, however, social distancing is impossible for all pupils in a classroom situation. When the Welsh Government decided that it was safe for all pupils to return to school in September, the purpose of the class groups is to be able to operate, Test, Trace, Protect and limit the transmission to that class only, rather than the wider school. In secondary schools, it is acknowledged that the wider contact group will be large and will likely be the size of a year group.The Operational Guidance for example states:
'In secondary schools, particularly in the older age groups, at Key Stages 4 and 5, the contact groups are likely to need to be the size of a year group to enable schools to deliver the full range of curriculum subjects and for learners to receive specialist teaching." Operational Guidance for Schools from the Autumn Term (v3), page 11
This means that should a pupil in a specific year group receive a positive test for Covid-19, then the whole year group (240) pupils will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. This has taken place in several schools across south Wales, this week. 
Please note that in a classroom the Welsh Government states:
" In classrooms where contact groups exist and other control measures are in place, the marginal benefit that may be gained by the use of face coverings, has to be balanced with the likely negative impact on the learning experience, including hearing and social communication. On the 26th August additional advice from the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) was published following its review of the use of face coverings in schools. " Page 17
"The Chief Medical Officer recommends, but does not mandate, the risk assessed use of face coverings in secondary schools in a range of settings where other physical controls cannot be or are unlikely to be maintained. This may include communal areas of schools where the physical layout means that contact groups cannot remain separated to the same degree. "  page 18
This is because it was never intended to prevent transmission within the contact groups, only prevent other contact groups, in so far as practicably possible, from contracting Covid-19. We have insisted on consistent class seating across all subjects in the school,  to mitigate as much as possible, of pupils within the same contact group, contracting Covid-19. Although, all pupils in designated contact groups would be required to self-isolate, in the event of a confirmed case. Pupils can choose to wear face coverings in a classroom situation, except when they are required to answer a question posed by a teacher. All pupils, regardless of whether they wear a face covering within or external to the classroom, would be required to self-isolate for 14 days, should one case be confirmed within that contact group. We do not recommend face coverings in a classroom situation, however pupils can wear them, should they choose and they wear them appropriately. 
Please note that staff carry a higher risk from the complications of Covid-19, should they contract it, and therefore are required to maintain 2m social distancing from pupils, insofar as practically possible. 
The full details of the guidance can be found here
Blended Learning/ Inset Days
There has been a change in the arrangement for the statutory In-service Education andT raining Days (INSET) for teachers. We apologise for this late change, which was needed in light of the first 2 days of the term being changed to 'planning days' . The INSET days have now been designated by WG, in addition to the planning days, for the academic year 2020/21. The final INSET Days are as follows:
1. Friday 6th Nov, 2020
2. Monday 9th Nov, 2020
3. Friday 4th Dec  2020
4. Monday 7th Dec 2020
5. Mon and Tues  19th,  20th  July 2021 

All pupils will be required to complete work at home as part of the blended learning policy so that they continue to learn and engage in school work.  Should pupils be required to self-isolate as part of Test, Trace, Protect, in the event of a confirmed case, pupils will also be expected to continue learning at home. 
We wish to thank all parents for your continued support, cooperation and understanding in ever-changing times.
Mrs Thomas, Headteacher and 
The Senior Leadership Team