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Coronavirus: Teaching unions call for school term’s delay

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THE NATIONAL Association of Headteachers Cymru (NAHT Cymru) has issued legal proceedings against the Welsh Government which seeks to delay the start of the new school term.
The Association’s Director, Laura Doel, says the Welsh Government must act cautiously in light of the hazard presented by a new mutation of coronavirus which causes worse symptoms in young people than the main strain.
Laura Doel said: “We want to see children in school. It is the best place for their education and their wider wellbeing.
“We understand that the Welsh Government is seeking to strike a balance between minimising the risk of transfer of COVID-19 and providing face to face education for all children. However, the latest data shows that in large parts of Wales, control of infection has been lost and the lack of understanding regarding the new strain has now created an intolerable risk to many school communities.
“It is simply unacceptable for schools to remain open when there is such a question mark over the impact the new variant will have and we will not sit back and let this happen without calling the Welsh Government to account, for the sake of the whole school community.”
Ms Doel continued: “We believe that it is wrong to keep people in harm’s way whilst the implications of the new variant of the virus are still being discovered. The currently available information contains no solid scientific evidence regarding the impact of the new variant on schools. In particular, there is nothing that outlines the risks to pupils and teachers of maintaining in-person tuition.
“With this in mind, we had begun legal proceedings against the government to force them to disclose the scientific information they are withholding.
“We have asked the Welsh Government to share the evidence justifying the distinctions drawn between primary and secondary schools, the geographical distinctions between Wales and England and the evidence that is being used to underpin the decision that schools’ plans do not need to change despite the emergence of the new variant of Covid in the UK.”

The NAHT says the Welsh Government should:

• Move all schools to home learning for a brief and determined period for most children.
• During this time, proper support to make the home learning experience as good as it can be. That includes technology and learning resources but also the flexibility for school leaders to respond to their circumstances.
• The government should then establish a properly organised, resourced and funded lateral flow testing regime for schools in place of the proposal which would see school staff leading the testing effort, instead of the botched DIY system currently being imposed.
• Work should be undertaken with school leaders and Public Health Wales to establish and agree on new Covid-related safety measures in schools during the temporary restriction.
• Urgently review its approach to special schools to protect all staff and pupils in those communities.
• Immediately prioritise vaccinations in education
• Then agree on an orderly return
The NASUWT has also called on the Minister of Education, Kirsty Williams MS, to move all education provision to remote education in light of the approaching new Covid strain.
Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT General Secretary, said: “The NASUWT is completely committed to ensuring that children can return to school as quickly as possible.
“However, it is now abundantly clear that the pandemic is seriously impacting on the ability of all schools to continue to operate normally.
“There is genuine concern that schools are not able to reopen fully and safely at this time.
“The NASUWT remains of the view that schools and other settings should only remain open to all pupils where it is safe for them to do so.
“The NASUWT will not hesitate to take appropriate action in order to protect members whose safety is put at risk as a result of the failure of employers or the Welsh Government to ensure safe working conditions in schools.”
Neil Butler, NASUWT National Official for Wales, said: “The whole of Wales is in Tier 4 and yet there are schools in Wales planning to open this week to full face-to-face teaching.
“There are chaos and confusion in the education service in Wales as the buck has effectively been passed to Local Authorities and some Authorities have passed it down to individual schools.
“The Education Minister has made teachers in Wales the promise that the safety of education workers would be a priority.
“We are now faced with a strain of Covid-19 that is 70% more virulent and 30%+ of new cases in Wales are of the new strain.
“We need to hear from the Education Minister that face-to-face teaching is suspended until schools can review their risk assessments to be able to cope with the new strain.
“During that time teachers can finally get the time to develop distance learning resources that are so desperately needed.”

Mark Drakeford said experts would be “looking at all the evidence again early next week”.

He added: “We reached an agreement with our local education colleagues that in Wales we will have a phased and flexible return to school.”

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Pembroke Dock: Two in hospital following Fort Road car accident

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EMERGENCY SERVICES dealt with what has been described by a witness as a “horrific car accident” in the Pembroke Dock area on Wednesday night (Jun 12).

A 23-year-old woman, driving a black BMW, travelled down Fort Road at speed, hit a low wall, catapulting the vehicle some considerable distance across a picnic area. The vehicle ended up irreparably damaged on the beach – which was luckily not in use at the time – landing next to the old Cambridge Gun Tower.

No other vehicles seem to have been involved, police said.

The driver has been arrested but remains in hospital, one passenger is in a critical but stable condition, in Cardiff, and a second passenger sustained only minor injuries.

A spokesperson for Welsh Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “We were called at 10.45pm on Wednesday night (Jun 23), to reports of a road traffic accident near the Fort Road car park in Pembroke Dock.

“We attended the scene with one rapid response vehicle, two emergency ambulances and our Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service.

“Two people were taken to University Hospital Wales, Cardiff for further treatment.”

The police are appealing in the media for information following the crash.

An official statement from the police reads as follows: “We were called to Fort Road, Pembroke Dock, at around 10.45pm on Wednesday night to reports of a single-vehicle collision. Ambulance and fire service also attended.

“A 19-year-old man was taken to the Heath Hospital in Cardiff and remains in a critical but stable condition.

“A second passenger attended hospital for minor injuries but has since been discharged. A 23-year-old woman was arrested, and currently remains in hospital.

“Anyone who witnessed the collision but who has not yet spoken to us should get in touch by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, visiting our website, or calling 101.

UPDATE: 24.06.2021, 15:47HRS

On Thursday (Jun 24) said that the female who was arrested was de-arrested because of the need for medical treatment, and is “no longer under arrest at this time.”

The police also added that their investigation was “still active”.

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Pembrokeshire call handler helps deliver Llanelli couple’s new baby

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A 999 CALL HANDLER from Pembrokeshire has helped deliver a Llanelli couple’s baby.

Father-of-two Chris Bassett, from Hook, answered the call from the Trust’s Clinical Contact Centre in Carmarthen, and whose instructions on loudspeaker enabled the pair to deliver their 8lb 1oz new arrival safely.

Thanks to Chris, Troy Smith, 34, and partner Abigail Jones, 33, delivered baby Arabella Dilys Smith in the bedroom of their Llanelli home.

Troy said: “I’ve never felt adrenaline like it but I knew I had to focus on the situation for Abigail and the baby’s sake.

“It all happened so quickly, but Chris’ voice on the other end of the phone kept us calm.”

Abigail, a teacher at Ysgol Carreg Hir in Briton Ferry, went into labour at around 10.00pm on Thursday, June 3, and made a trip to hospital, where nurses confirmed she was in the early stages.

The couple returned to their Pwll home, but their soon-to-be daughter had other ideas.

Troy said: “At around 4.30am, Abigail developed a lot of pain and said she had an urge to push.

“I thought, ‘Right, this is happening’ and phoned an ambulance because I knew I’d be delivering the baby right there and then.”

It was Chris, a former RAF Aerospace Systems Operator, who picked up the call in the early hours of Friday, June 4.

The 29-year-old, who has been with the Welsh Ambulance Service for 18 months, said: “As soon as I answered the call, it was obvious that Troy and Abigail were in distress, as anyone would be in that situation.

“The priority was to get Abigail in a comfortable position to deliver the baby safely.

“For me, it was about giving them clear instructions while trying to keep them both calm.”

Troy added: “I just did what came naturally. When you’re in that situation, you just do it.

“As soon as Arabella came, I felt this wave of relief and I just couldn’t believe how gorgeous she was.

“Chris was so professional and handled the situation really well.

“He gave us all the information and kept us calm.”

Ambulance crews arrived soon after, and took Abigail to Carmarthen’s Glangwili General Hospital, where she was treated for shock before being discharged the following day.

Abigail said: “The whole thing was petrifying because I just never expected to be having the baby at home, but we’re so grateful to Chris for helping us to deliver Arabella safely.”

Chris added: “In your role as a 999 call handler, you’re helping people in their darkest hour, but I’m just glad this call had a happy ending.

“This is the third baby I’ve helped to deliver during my time at the ambulance service, but the first one I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.”

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Covid causes partial school closure at Haverfordwest High VC

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A PARTIAL school closure is in force today at Haverfordwest High VC school after a pupil in year 9 has tested positive for coronavirus.

All students in year 9 must stay at home , isolate and await further instruction while the school completes all of the necessary Track and Trace processes.

In a statement released by the school, they said: “We have been informed that a Year 9 pupil has tested positive for COVID-19.

“We wish them a speedy recovery.

“As a precautionary measure and to enable us to complete all of the necessary Track and Trace processes, the school will be closed to Year 9 Pupils today.

“The school remains open to all other year groups.

“Until further notice, Year 9 students should stay at home and isolate until further instructions are given. Lessons for all other year groups will continue as usual. Unless your child is in Year 9 they should attend school.”

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