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Covid-19: Pressure grows on local authorities to end the school term early



PRESSURE is increasing on local authorities to end the school term early.

The Herald understands that both Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire County Councils are considering ending the school term on Monday.

If those counties close their schools, it is almost inevitable that Pembrokeshire will follow suit.

The Cabinet Member for Education, Guy Woodham, has remained adamant that Pembrokeshire will hold the line to December 18. However, faced with neighbouring councils shutting schools, logistical and staffing pressures could compel Pembrokeshire to follow suit.

Both the National Education Union and the National Association of Head Teachers have intervened in the issue. The unions have express concerns about their members’ safety and wellbeing, and that of their families.

After a positive test, a teacher in contact with a student must self-isolate pending the outcome of their own test’s result.

A teacher required to self-isolate at any point after December 11 previously faced being in precautionary measures until Christmas Day or beyond.

As things stand, some school heads face the theoretical prospect of running a Test Trace Protect procedure on Christmas Day.

In what might prove a significant move, on Tuesday (December 8) the Welsh Government reduced the period of self-isolation from fourteen to ten days.

The rising number of cases in schools and a new Welsh Government assessment has given the unions’ concerns greater impetus.

On Tuesday (December 8), David Evans, Wales Secretary of the NEU said: “Whole year groups are being told to isolate. The virus is spreading in schools, and our priority must be keeping both learners and staff as safe as possible.”

The following day, the Welsh Government’s Technical Advisory Group on Covid (TAG) published new guidance.

The TAG report said: “The best way to protect older family members is not to expose them to potential infection, no matter how well-intended the reason for contact.

“Pre-isolation may be a helpful consideration for families with children before visiting older relatives.”

The National Association of Head Teachers responded by writing to Wales’ Education Minister, Kirsty Williams.

The letter picked up on the TAG advice regarding pre-isolation.

It said: “[T]he advice on pre-isolating of families with children, in our view cuts across the government’s current position on keeping schools open. It once again risks mixed messages causing utter confusion.

“If this report is advising families to pre-isolate to protect any extended family members that they are planning to see over Christmas, surely the opportunity to do so must be supported by the government.

“Parents will undoubtedly vote with their feet, and children will be kept at home. That choice will not be afforded to school staff if school leaders are not supported in closing school sites.”

The letter continued: “NAHT Cymru urges you to review your position in light of the new advice and look, at a national level.”

It proposes a transition to blended/distance learning for the final week of term (December 14-18) in line with the TAG report advice.

NAHT says: “This week would see the closure of school sites and should be used for isolation and reducing social contacts, with a clear ‘stay at home’ message for all age groups

“This move would allow children, staff and families the opportunity to adhere to the pre-isolation advice.”

We approached Cllr Guy Woodham with our information about early closure plans in Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion.

He responded: “The position remains under constant review and further meetings are happening today (Thursday, December 10) which may, hopefully, provide an agreed way forward.

“While I remain of the view that 18 December is an appropriate last day of term, this is not an entrenched position, and I will continue to listen to others while remaining focused on delivering what is in the best interests of Pembrokeshire learners during these unprecedented and extremely challenging times.”


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



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



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



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

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:

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