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Coronavirus

HSE praise for Swansea schools’ Covid-19 response

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Pupils and staff at Swansea schools have been praised for their commitment to abiding by Covid-19 regulations following spot inspections by the Health and Safety Executive.

The Health and Safety Executive carried out spot-check inspections of a sample of 10 Swansea schools. The schools were seen to demonstrate clear examples of how pupils and staff at schools had made their response to the virus part of their daily routines while keeping school life as normal as possible.

Jennifer Raynor, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills said the HSE inspections were a strong testimony to how well schools in Swansea are responding to the challenges of managing the virus. Pentrehafod Comprehensive School as well as St David’s Primary School and Ysgol Crug Glas did particularly well in the inspections.

She said: “Pupils at Pentrehafod Comprehensive, Ysgol Crug Glas and St David’s are clearly setting the standards for communities across Swansea. If they can do their bit to stop the spread of the virus, then the rest of us should be following their lead.”

Cllr Raynor added: “The inspector said it was clear to him how well embedded Covid-19 spread prevention activities were in school life and how well-motivated staff and pupils at schools were in maintaining them. He also praised the role that the council played in engaging with the schools supporting them with their preparations.”

The HSE inspector said school behaviours demonstrated the level of compliance with social distancing and hand washing that meet the expected guidance.

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He said the council had shown a high level of engagement with schools, providing them with guidance and detailed practical support. This level of engagement had allowed for a consistent approach to dealing with the risk.

The close working relationship between the schools and council public health and safety team along with the engagement with HSE during the inspection process demonstrated a transparent approach to assurance.

School staff at Ysgol Crug Glas were praised on how well they’ve adapted their special working practices to maintain education delivery and the high levels of care and support provided to the pupils.

Harvey Wild, HSE’s Head of Transport and Public Services Unit, said: “We have been engaged with local authorities across Wales to support schools to manage the changes they’ve had to introduce to protect pupils and staff from the spread of the virus and to minimise disruption to education activities as much as possible.

“We can see that schools in Swansea are doing all they can within their settings to apply Welsh Government and Public Health Wales regulations and guidance in their daily routines.

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“It is encouraging to see young people, staff and governors and council support teams working together to keep children safe and demonstrating compliance with Covid-19 arrangements. All schools and workplaces need to be COVID-secure and should follow the latest government guidance to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.”

The schools inspected by the HSE were:

  • Clydach Primary
  • YGG Gellionnen
  • YG Lon Las
  • St Davids Primary School
  • Ysgol Crug Glas
  • Llangyfelach Primary School
  • YG Bryntawe Comprehensive School
  • YGG Gwyr Comprehensive School
  • Cefn Hengoed Comprehensive School
  • Pentrehafod Comprehensive School

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Coronavirus

Face coverings retained in health and social care settings

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First Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed the legal requirement to wear a face covering in health and care settings will remain in place.

Speaking after the latest three-week review of the coronavirus regulations, the First Minister said the public health situation was improving following the recent spike in cases caused by the BA.2 sub-type of omicron.

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But Covid case rates remain high so maintaining the use of face coverings in health and care settings will help to protect to some of the most vulnerable people in society, staff and visitors.

The First Minister also urged everyone to continue to take measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus by following a set of simple steps to protect one another and keep Wales safe.

These include self-isolating if ill or testing positive for Covid-19; wearing a face covering in crowded indoor places, meeting outdoors wherever possible; keeping indoor areas well ventilated and washing hands regularly.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “The pandemic isn’t over but we are seeing encouraging signs the recent high levels of infections across Wales are falling.

“There are steps we can all take to protect ourselves while coronavirus is still circulating and reduce the spread of the virus even further. This is particularly true in places where some of the most vulnerable people in society are being treated and live, which is why we will retain the legal requirement to wear face coverings in health and social care settings.

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“More generally, ensuring you are up-to-date with your Covid vaccinations and spring booster – if you are eligible – is really important. If you have Covid symptoms or test positive, please stay at home and help break the chain of transmission.

“Together, we can carry on keeping each other safe and keeping Wales safe.”

The next three-weekly review of coronavirus regulations will be carried out by 26 May.

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Coronavirus

Schools’ Covid guidance aligned to businesses and other workplaces

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The Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, has announced that Covid-19 measures for schools in Wales will be brought into line with guidance for businesses and other organisations.

The Welsh Government has written to schools in Wales this morning to inform them of the changes.

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Since September last year, schools have applied measures to stop the spread of Coronavirus according to local circumstances, based on the Local Covid-19 infection control decision framework for schools. Schools will no longer be advised to use the framework.

The change is in line with the Welsh Government’s long-term Covid-19 transition from pandemic to endemic. The risk from coronavirus is now considered in the same context as other communicable diseases, such as flu.

The First Minister has announced that the remaining coronavirus restrictions will be removed from 9 May, if the public health situation remained stable. The changes to the guidance for schools will also come into effect from 9 May.

Schools and other education settings will continue to be advised to work with local authorities and public health advisors to ensure that measures remain appropriate and proportionate and reflect local risks and circumstances.

A checklist will be provided to support schools and settings in considering which control measures remain proportionate. Special schools will continue to follow the advice for children and young people with higher clinical risk and clinically extremely vulnerable adults.

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Speaking at the Welsh Government’s weekly press briefing, Jeremy Miles said: “In line with the wider public health guidance published at the last three-week review, we have today written to headteachers to signpost the impending changes to our advice for schools, which reflect the move from pandemic to endemic. This will ensure school guidance is more closely aligned with the rest of society.

“We all know that Covid-19 has not gone way. It remains vitally important we reduce the spread of the virus where we can – this includes, for example, following self-isolation guidance, and for education settings to continue to undertake robust risk assessments.”

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Coronavirus

Health board extends shuttle bus between Llanelli and COVID vaccination centre

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Hywel Dda University Health Board (HDUHB) has extended the free shuttle bus service between Llanelli town centre and the mass vaccination centre in Dafen to help people access their COVID-19 vaccination as easily as possible.

The shuttle bus, provided by Dolen Teifi, will continue to run between 10.30am to 4.40pm, seven days a week – with no service at 12.00pm from town or at 12.15pm from the mass vaccination centre to allow the drivers a lunch break.

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People can board the shuttle bus on the hour and at half-past the hour at Church Street, outside Llanelli Magistrates Court.

The shuttle bus will leave the mass vaccination centre quarter past and quarter to the hour, returning to the town centre and dropping passengers off opposite Llanelli library.

Bethan Lewis, Interim Assistant Director of Public Health for Hywel Dda UHB, said: “We need as many people as possible attending their COVID-19 vaccine appointments, or dropping in if eligible.

“This shuttle bus service is one of many additional resources and services being put in place across the Hywel Dda region to help support more people to receive their COVID-19 vaccination. I am pleased the shuttle bus service has been extended to help people reliant on public transport to access their COVID-19 vaccine.”

On 21 February 2022, the JCVI published a statement, recommending an additional spring booster.

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Strict COVID-19 safety measures are in place to ensure the safety of drivers and passengers on this service, including wearing face coverings unless medically exempt.

A maximum of 14 passengers are allowed per journey with a screen in place between driver and passengers.

The health board say that passengers should only use this service if they are fit and well on the day.

They add that before travelling without an appointment to Dafen mass vaccination centre, people should check the health board’s website for up-to-date information such as vaccine eligibility and drop-in opening times.

(Lead image: Hywel Dda NHS)

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