FLINTSHIRE Council has welcomed plans to allow schools to reopen in September.

On Thursday, Education Minister Kirsty Williams announced that all state schools in Wales will reopen to all pupils September for the first time since the coronavirus lockdown started in late March.

She said there would be only limited social distancing within "contact groups" of about 30 pupils, but that adults in schools, however, will have to socially distance with each other.

And Flintshire Council says local plans and preparations are underway between the local authority and schools in the area to review risk assessment, processes and systems to ensure individual schools can welcome pupils back safely in line with guidance by Welsh Government.

Schools which can do so will reopen from the first week of term. Some specific groups of learners might need to be prioritised during this week, such as Year 7, 12, 13 and Special Units for Secondary, Special Units for Early Years and Year 6. Parents will receive more specific information from their school and the Local Authority as it becomes available.

From September 14, school attendance will be compulsory. Parents are asked to contact their school if a pupil is unable to attend to discuss further.

The council says each school setting will have local challenges to address, including staffing levels, and that work is underway to confirm school transport arrangements.

The local authority says it will work closely with all schools to overcome such issues.

The Welsh Government has also announced £29m to boost support for learners to minimise the impacts of the disruption due to the ongoing situation. The equivalent of 600 extra teachers and 300 teaching assistants will be recruited across Wales throughout the next school year, targeting extra support at Years 11, 12 and 13, as well as disadvantaged and vulnerable learners of all ages.

Cllr Ian Roberts, Flintshire’s leader and cabinet member for education and youth, said: "Over the last few months, many learners will have felt anxious about loss of learning and not being able to see their friends. I welcome the Minister’s plan to allow schools to safely welcome pupils back in September in line with all necessary safety measures and Welsh Government guidance.

“We know hard working staff in schools, learners and their families may well be under additional emotional, financial and psychological pressure during this incredibly challenging period. We continue to work closely with schools and settings to consider how best to support the ongoing well-being needs of all learners at this tough time.

“Pupils’ learning has been severely disrupted by the crisis. The £29m pledge by Welsh Government to recruit extra staff to support the recovery phase, minimise the impacts on pupils, and continue the ongoing work to raise school standards is welcomed.”