Schools in Monmouthshire won't be closing early for Christmas says council - but parents disagree

By Julie McNicholls Vale   |   Deputy news editor   |
Monday 7th December 2020 4:53 pm
@JulieCambrian
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There are currently “no plans” to end the school term early in Monmouthshire, the council has confirmed but hours after the report was released parents have had their say.

The news comes as local authorities across Wales have started announcing plans for the end of the school term, following concerns from parents over the potential need for children to self-isolate over the Christmas period.

With Welsh schools finishing a week before Christmas on December 18 and the current self-isolation period being 14 days, concerns have been raised that a chance for a family Christmas could be taken away.

However, Monmouthshire County Council has confirmed there are currently no plans to change school term dates in the local authority area.

This falls in line with the joint Welsh Government and Welsh Local Government Association statement which says in-person teaching and learning will continue until the end of term and remote learning will only be used where “it is proportionate to the prevalence and impact of the virus within the locality”.

Monmouthshire is the second Gwent council to announce that schools will stay open until the end of term with Torfaen council taking the decision last week.

However parents across Gwent have now had their say on whether they will be keeping their children at home for the last week of the school term.

Concerns have been raised over the potential need to self-isolate over the Christmas period if children remain in school until the last week of term.

However, many parents have said that at least one of their children have already had to self-isolate in the first term of the 2020/21 year.

Blaenau Gwent is currently the only local authority in Gwent to be moving teaching online from Thursday (December 10), with Caerphilly county borough making the move for the last two days of term on December 17.

Kathryn Newman from Ebbw Vale said even if schools had not moved online, she’d have considered pulling them out early.

She said: “Our schools close this week on Wednesday anyway so mine are going, just as its Christmas and they have parties in their class bubbles and have already missed out on so much this year.

“I had planned on pulling them out this week anyway regardless on the council’s decision.”

Zoe Grist said that she would be keeping her children at home from December 10 so the family could see grandparents at Christmas “without putting them at risk”.

“Between September and now my son has had a total of six weeks isolation due to cases in his year-group and my daughter is currently in isolation until December 14,” she said.

However some raised concerns over missed education and the mental health of the pupils.

Gaynor Kitcher said she would be sending her children into school until the end of term because “they’ve already missed out on way too much schooling and distance learning is no substitute”.

She said: “Their mental health declines every time the school makes the whole year self-isolate and as a single working parent trying constantly home school is an utter nightmare.”

Tamara Callaghan said she is in two minds as to what to do.

She said: “My daughter isolation is up tomorrow and I will be returning her back to school, I’m in two minds what to do about the last week as I don’t want her missing out in school but also don’t want to do another two weeks isolation, as I have a family member who has no one else to spend Christmas with spending it with us.”

However, she said it was a personal choice and parents shouldn’t “be made to feel bad for their choice”.

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