COVID-19: Anglesey schools to reopen after factory outbreak

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Anglesey schools will reopen next month following the COVID-19 outbreak at the 2 Sisters factory in Llangefni.

Public Health Wales officials have confirmed there is no evidence to suggest the cluster at the chicken processing plant has spread to the community.

Classrooms on the island will restart for a week on Monday 13th July as part of the Welsh Government’s catch-up scheme to prepare for the autumn term.

Schools in neighbouring Gwynedd returned for a shortened summer term on Monday (29th June).

At least 216 cases of coronavirus were found among 2 Sisters staff workers – the factory was closed for at least a fortnight and all staff and contractors are self-isolating.

The outbreak prompted Anglesey Council to keep the island’s schools while most classes across Wales resumed for a three-week ‘Check In, Catch Up’ programmme.

But last weekend, the council reported there was a slowdown in positive cases among the 2 Sisters workforce, although they’re continuing to urge staff to get tested.

On Tuesday, Health Minister, Vaughan Gething said the Llangefni outbreak – and two similar incidents in Wrexham and Merthyr Tydfil – were significantly different to that in Leicester, where local lockdown restrictions have been reimposed.

Rhys Howard Hughes, the council’s director of education, said they believed it was the right decision to open schools – and allow children to return for the last week of the summer term, if they choose.

He added: ”Our head teachers, teachers and support staff have been working hard behind the scenes to ensure that children and staff will return to a safe learning environment.”

”We have seen fantastic co-operation between all schools and the county council’s education service, which has seen us overcome significant hurdles.”

”Ultimately, parents will have to make the decision on whether their children return – but I want to reassure them that we are working with partners to make our schools as safe as possible.”

Schools will contact parents to outline the offer available for all children – but the council warned it did not mean schools would be ‘back to normal’ with arrangements varying.

Not all pupils will be returning at once – up to a third of children who normally attend will be allowed to return for the time being.

Gwyn Pleming, chair of the council’s strategic forum for primary schools, said: ”The health and safety of our children and staff has always come first during preparations to welcome pupils back.”

”We understand that parents and children will be anxious and have many questions – that’s only natural. Schools will now be in touch to explain more about what will be on offer to children when they return and provide parents with the information they need.”

Aaron Bayley, who chairs the strategic forum for secondary schools, added: ”We’re really looking forward to seeing pupils return to their classrooms and to restoring some semblance of normality to our schools before the end of the summer term.”

”Our focus during the week will be on responding to pupils’ emotional health and wellbeing needs in a safe environment as well as ensuring continuity between school-based support and home learning.”

The council has also confirmed it will reopen its second recycling centre for household waste at Gwalchmai on Tuesday (2nd July), albeit with a similar pre-booking system to the one used at its Penhesgyn site.

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