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Extension of rail concession welcome news

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Rebecca Evans, Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales, has welcomed news today that a popular concessionary railscheme run on rural railways by the Labour Welsh Government is to be extended by 6 months.

Mrs Evans, who recently facilitated a meeting of train service users with the Minister for Transport, said:

“I am delighted that the concessionary rail scheme on rural railways has been extended until next March.

“When we met with the Minister we made the case for the concessionary rail scheme, highlighting how popular it was and noting the importance of the scheme in tackling loneliness and promoting inclusion for older people and disabled people.

“I have only heard good feedback about the concessionary rail scheme, and am pleased that the Welsh Government continues to invest in it.”

The Transport Minister, Edwina Hart, has announced the extension of the concessionary rail scheme on rural railways until March 2014.

Eligible pass holders will continue to benefit from free rail travel on the Conwy Valley Line between Blaenau Ffestiniog and Llandudno, and on the Welsh section of the Wrexham – Bidston Line for another six months.

The Cambrian Coast and Heart of Wales schemes, which operate during the winter months, will also run until March 2014.

The scheme, which has been funded by the Welsh Government since 2007, complements the concessionary bus fares scheme and gives access to public transport in areas where bus services are limited.

Transport Minister, Edwina Hart, said: “The concessionary rural rail scheme demonstrates our commitment to sustainable transport in Wales and is an important service for the elderly and disabled in our rural communities.

 “This popular scheme also addresses our goals of decreasing private car use, reducing rural isolation and strengthening our rural communities.”

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Masks now advised in all secondary schools

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PUPILS across Wales are now being advised to wear facemasks in all communal areas of secondary schools (including playgrounds), colleges and on transport to and from places of learning by the Welsh Government.

Although not compulsory, the new recommendations have been made by ministers to ensure a consistent approach in tackling COVID-19 across Wales.

People picking up and dropping off children are also advised to wear face coverings too to minimise the risk of catching or passing on COVID-19.

The new guidance, aimed mainly at secondary schools, which the Education Minister has described as ‘easy to follow’ was announced today and now means that the only spaces where staff and pupils can safely remove their facemasks is in the classroom.

The majority of councils already require secondary pupils and staff to wear masks in corridors and on most school transport with those rules extended to primary pupils too in some areas.

Education minister Kirsty Williams said: “It is vital that young people, parents, adults and the workforce feel confident that all measures are being taken to ensure the educational environments are as safe as possible.

“We have been clear that we will keep every policy under review and will continue to follow scientific advice. The policy we are announcing today does just that”.

The new advice has been recommended by the Welsh Government’s Technical Advisory Group (Tag), which has been looking at the “possibility of wearing face coverings for older age groups in more circumstances, including on public and dedicated transport” and could “even include in the classroom on a risk assessed basis…. balancing benefits with harms to overall wellbeing of students.”

Tag is also looking at how feasible a mass asymptomatic testing programme in schools and colleges could be, the Welsh Government has said it is considering that approach.

Debbie Thomas, Head of Policy at the National Deaf Children’s Society Cymru, said: “Face masks and coverings in communal areas could have serious consequences for Wales’ 2,500 deaf children, almost all of whom rely on lip reading and facial expressions to communicate.
“Socialising in corridors, break time chats and playground games are all rites of passage, but deaf young people now risk missing out because they can’t understand what others are saying. They’re also more likely to experience loneliness, isolation and bullying.
“Public health is the priority, but schools and colleges must move quickly to introduce reasonable adjustments to help deaf young people during this difficult time.”

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Two day centres to close temporarily as a precaution

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TWO north Pembrokeshire Day facilities for older people and people with learning disabilities are to close temporarily as a precaution following the rise in coronavirus cases in Ceredigion.

Bro Preseli Day Centre in Crymych and Wintern Day Centre, Goodwick, are to close temporarily from tomorrow (Tuesday, November 24).

The decision to close each site will be reviewed regularly.

It is emphasised that there have been no positive cases of Covid-19 detected at either site and the temporary closures have been put in place as a precaution.

 

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North Pembrokeshire schools remain closed

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THE SIX North Pembrokeshire schools which were closed today (Monday, November 23) as a precaution following the increased spread of coronavirus in South Ceredigion, will remain closed tomorrow (Tuesday, November 23).

The Pembrokeshire schools are:

• Ysgol Preseli
• Ysgol y Frenni
• Ysgol Llandudoch
• Ysgol Eglwyswrw
• Ysgol Cilgerran
• Ysgol Clydau.

The Pembrokeshire schools are closed as a precaution as they share services – such as transport – with the Ceredigion schools.

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