COUNCILS in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot have asked the schools in those areas to re-introduce some restrictions due to local coronavirus risk.

In a joint statement, the two councils and Swansea Bay University Health Board have confirmed that local education authorities have moved schools to the high risk level of the Welsh Government’s school reopening guidance which came in on September 1. The guidance suggests varying levels of restrictions depending on whether local risk of Covid is low, moderate, high or very high.

The joint statement released by Swansea Bay University Health Board said: “Due to the high number of people across the region testing positive for Covid-19, public health leaders are asking schools to retain a number of precautions that were in place before the summer in line with latest Welsh Government guidance.

“This means that pupils and staff at comprehensives will continue to be encouraged to take twice weekly LFT tests and be expected to wear face coverings indoors although not in classrooms.

“Face masks will also still be required on school transport.

“Schools are being asked to look at reintroducing one-way systems in corridors if they have stopped using them and to look at seating plans.

“Desks will be front-facing where practical and there will be no full school assemblies.

“But schools will not be returning to ‘bubble’ groups where whole year groups need to isolate if a positive case is recorded.

“Parents and carers are again being reminded that they should not send their children to school if they are unwell or have any of the coronavirus symptoms.”

The schools in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot have been moved to high alert following a rise in covid numbers. They have been asked to re-impose restrictions such as one-way systems, social distancing, and to have pupils face the front in classrooms. Despite the new high alert level, schools do not have to re-impose contact bubbles. 

Some of the high schools have relaxed requirements for pupils to wear masks in communal areas. They have now been told that everyone must wear masks in the communal areas. However, they do not have to wear masks in class. The students have been advised to take lateral flow tests twice a week. 

Dr Keith Reid, executive director of public health for the Swansea Bay region, said: “Covid has not gone away in our region or in Wales and levels of infection are now as high as last December. Schools are not themselves a high risk, but we are asking them to take steps to help prevent the continuing spread of the virus in the wider community.

“The current and sustained high level of Covid-19 infections in Swansea means we are asking schools to take action which is in line with the Welsh Government framework for education ‘High’ rating.

“Schools will now take steps as outlined in the national framework. The risk rating will be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that the approach in schools remains based on our local understanding of the situation.”