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Minister’s schools announcement for children aged 3 to 7 welcomed

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WELSH Education Minister Kirsty Williams has confirmed that children in Foundation Phase (aged three to seven) will start to return to school on Monday, February 22 after the half-term break.

Pembrokeshire County Council says it welcomes the announcement.

Director for Education, Steven Richards-Downes, said: “Today’s announcement gives clarity to school staff and families and about a phased return to school for Foundation Phase learners.

“Schools have been working closely with the Council and planning and preparing for this announcement for some time. Schools will now move into an operational phase, building on the knowledge and experience of the past year to ensure that schools are as Covid-safe as they can possibly be.

“Please check your school’s website and social media pages over coming weeks for details of how the return to school will look for your child/children.

“It is important to remember that for those learners not included in this announcement schools will still continue to provide distance learning provision. Again please contact your child/children’s school directly if you have any queries on distance learning.

“Provision for the children of key workers and vulnerable learners will also continue.

“I would like to once again thank everyone, school staff, learners and parents and carers for the way they have embraced learning at home and adapted to the current situation.

“We look forward to welcoming more learners back to schools when safe to do so.

“In the meantime, please continue to follow the guidance to keep driving down the spread of Covid-19.”

The phased return to schools is only possible because people have stuck to the rules, the Director of the Welsh NHS Confederation said.

Responding to the latest Welsh Government update on the Coronavirus pandemic, Darren Hughes told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “Everyone in Wales wants to see our children go back to school as soon as it’s safe to do so. Teachers, the NHS and anyone who works with children understands the need to get them back to face-to-face learning as soon as possible.
“That’s why we’ll need the public to be particularly careful as we bring some children back to school, it’s not a return to normality. The phased return to schools is only possible because people have stuck to the rules and the vaccination programme roll-out has continued to progress, at speed.

“It is fantastic to see we have passed the milestone of having administered half a million vaccinations, meaning more than one in six people in Wales have now had their first dose. The rapid acceleration of the vaccination programme roll-out is a credit to our staff and all of the organisations working in partnership and individuals involved. Every person we vaccinate is another step closer to safer communities.

“Whilst the overall picture is looking positive, pressure on the NHS remains high, and we continue to have a high level of hospitalisations. Let’s not go backwards now.”
The National Deaf Children’s Society has responded to the announcement that schools in Wales will reopen to younger children on February 22nd. There are around 2,500 deaf children in Wales, of whom around 1,100 are of primary school age.

Debbie Thomas, Head of Policy at the National Deaf Children’s Society Cymru, said: “Families of young deaf children in Wales will have mixed views on the return to school. Remote learning has brought real challenges during the pandemic, but deaf pupils have faced barriers in the classroom too, such as face masks and difficulties in accessing their specialist teachers.

“As schools prepare to reopen, it’s vital that they consider the needs of their deaf pupils at this very difficult time because many of them face a huge battle to catch-up. They will need ongoing, tailored support to help them succeed.”

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Judith Rhead murder investigation – Detectives given more time to question suspect

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POLICE have been given more time to question a 43-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder.

The man has been in police custody since Saturday night, after being arrested over the death 68-year-old Judith Rhead.

She was found in a residential property in Market Street.

The police now have until Thursday afternoon (Feb 25) to question the suspect.

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All people eligible for vaccination will get theirs by end of July

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PEOPLE eligible for the coronavirus vaccine will get theirs by the end of July, the Health Minister has said.

Wales achieved its target of getting everyone in the first four priority groups vaccinated by the middle of February and is now working on offering the vaccine to those in groups 5 to 9.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has set out that people with severe or profound learning disabilities or with a mental illness will be among priority group 6.

Mr Gething said that they were would make sure that no one is left behind.

The latest figures from Public Health Wales show that 878,506 people had received their first dose of the vaccine.

59,279 people have received both doses of the vaccine.

Vaughan Gething, Minister for Health and Social Services, said: “We have achieved our first milestone of offering everyone in the first four priority groups vaccination by mid-February.

“We are now making progress in achieving our next milestone, which is to offer the vaccine to all individuals in priority groups 5 to 9.

“The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has set out that people with a severe/profound learning disability and individuals with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, or any mental illness that causes severe functional impairment, should be invited for vaccination as part of priority group 6.

“There are challenges with identifying individuals within these groups, particularly given the JCVI language is not generally in use in Wales, and we are working hard to make sure that no one is left behind. Today we have published guidance on identifying eligible individuals in these groups and on how to support them to take up their vaccine offers.

“The JCVI has also said that some of our invaluable unpaid carers should be included in priority group 6.

“Today we have also published guidance on identifying those unpaid carers eligible for vaccine prioritisation and the process around this. I am grateful to the national carers’ organisations for their support with this work.”

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Council want your help to keep Pembrokeshire active

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL is asking residents to give their views on local walking and cycling routes.

The Council aims to make journeys on foot and by bicycle easier, safer and more enjoyable for everyone.

In order to design a network that works for all, the Council would like to get the views of as many people as possible, particularly those who don’t currently walk or cycle. This will help ensure the routes built for walking and cycling work for the whole community.

The consultation focuses on the main towns and villages in Pembrokeshire which have been selected by Welsh Government as the designated localities in the County. These are:

  • Fishguard & Goodwick
  • Haverfordwest
  • Johnston
  • Milford Haven
  • Neyland
  • Pembroke Dock
  • Pembroke
  • Tenby
  • Saundersfoot
  • Narberth

Pembrokeshire Council is currently undertaking an Active Travel Network Map consultation (ATNM) which will run in 3 stages

Consultation 1: Residents can take part in the consultation exercise online, hosted by Commonplace at https://Pembrokeshire.commonplace.is/

The interactive map allows participants to flag issues, problems and successes on a plan of the active travel settlement and add comments. Such points could be for example, a pavement that is too narrow or a newly built cycle route that is regarded as a success.

The first stage of the consultation will close on 31 st March 2021.

Consultation 2: Following this, the second step of the consultation will see the Council share the initial findings and ask people what they think of the plans
proposed as a result of the feedback received.

Consultation 3: The third stage of the consultation will give members of the public a final say on the Active Travel Network Maps before they are sent to Welsh Government for approval. These maps will have been produced taking into account public feedback and ideas from consultations 1 and 2.

By upgrading facilities and creating new walking and cycling routes, the Council plans to make Active Travel the popular choice for local journeys, to increase the attractiveness of local communities as places to live and work, improve health and well-being, and help tackle air pollution.

Cllr Phil Baker, Pembrokeshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, said: “This consultation exercise will produce an Active Travel Network Map which will be a plan of routes the Council will use to inform where improvements to walking and cycling should be made in Pembrokeshire.

“It will help to make journeys on foot or by bicycle easier and safer for everyone, particularly those who don’t currently walk or cycle often and people who use mobility aids and will build on the increased level of walking and cycling that we have seen over the last 12 months during the pandemic.”

See more information on Active Travel at: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/fitness-and-well-being/active-travel

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