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ALL SCHOOLS in Wales will close by Friday this week.

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Schools in Carmarthenshire have been preparing for the closure by placing as many teaching resources as possible online.

UWTSD has already moved to online delivery of lectures and seminars for its students.

In a written statement, Education Minister Kirsty Williams said: “We are in an unprecedented period, one that is changing hour-by-hour, and governments around the world are having to make quick decisions.

Firstly, I would like to extend my gratitude to all those working in our education and childcare settings for the critical work you have been undertaking, under incredible pressure to support our children and young people. You have been at the front-line in supporting wider efforts to prepare for the challenges we are all now facing and I am incredibly grateful and proud.

Today, I can announce we are bringing forward the Easter break for schools in Wales. Schools across Wales will close for statutory provision of education at the latest on 20 March 2020.

I have been clear up to now that the continuity of education and the wellbeing of our learners has been at the heart of my decision making. This will always be the case.

From next week, schools will have a new purpose. They will help support those most in need, including people involved in the immediate response to the coronavirus outbreak. I am working with my colleagues in the Cabinet, with government officials and our partners in local government to develop and finalise these plans.

The key areas we are looking at are supporting and safeguarding the vulnerable and ensuring continuity of learning. We are looking in detail at how we can support and safeguard all those who benefit from free school meals and children with additional learning needs. I will make sure you are kept up-to-date.

While this will apply to schools, childcare settings are expected to remain open until we have definitive advice from the Chief Medical Officer and from Public Health Wales that any closures are required. Parents can, and should, speak with their usual childcare providers if they need care over the Easter holidays

I have discussed my intentions with the Leader of the Welsh Local Government Association, Andrew Morgan, who reflects the views of local authorities. Some school staff will likely have an important role to play in this. We are working closely with our key stakeholders to look at what this will look like for both education and childcare settings, including Flying Start. This position will of course evolve over the coming days and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.

One of the critical decisions that we will seek to clarify with urgency is that of the forthcoming examinations. I am also working with Qualifications Wales and the WJEC about this year’s exam series. In line with all education ministers across the UK, I will be making a further announcement shortly.

From the outset, the decisions being taken have been focused on public health advice, and it is right that these science-based recommendations are front and centre of the decisions being made.

The announcement I am making today will help ensure an orderly closure for schools so that they have the time to prepare. However, I am conscious that the SAGE Committee and COBR meet this afternoon, and I will of course be listening closely to see if advice changes and any further urgent decisions about school closures are needed.

Today’s decision will help ensure an orderly closure, so schools have time to prepare ahead of the early break.

My main message for everyone is to stay safe and stay well. We will work together and we will face this outbreak together.

I will of course continue to keep you updated.”

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We are recruiting – staff needed

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The council is urgently seeking more staff as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

We are looking to recruit people into a number of jobs throughout Carmarthenshire to help keep frontline services running, but particularly need carers, cleaners and catering staff.

No previous experience is needed, as full training will be provided.

The council offers good rates of pay and flexible hours. Full and part-time, permanent and temporary contracts are available.

The council also has vacancies for social workers so if you have the relevant qualifications and experience please get in touch.

Deputy Leader Cllr Mair Stephens, executive board member for recruitment and training, said: “It is vital that we keep our essential frontline services running during this crisis; and as a result, we have some vacancies that we need to fill immediately.

“We may also start to see staff shortages in some areas in the coming weeks, so we need to be prepared to fill these.

“We are urging people who are in a position to apply for these jobs to please contact us, your community needs you. Don’t worry if you don’t have experience in these areas as full training will be given.

“As well as recruiting new staff, we are also redeploying staff where possible from non-critical services to other roles as and when needed.

“I want to reassure residents we are doing all we can to protect frontline services during this extremely difficult and uncertain time.”

We want to make the application process as easy as possible, so only the mandatory fields on the application form will need to be completed along with a brief statement. Applicants will be contacted by telephone following their application.

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Over 100 iPads handed out to council care homes

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More than 100 iPads are being handed out to council care homes in Carmarthenshire so that residents can communicate face to face with their loved ones.

It comes after visiting restrictions were placed on residential homes across the UK in response to the Coronavirus outbreak.

The 110 tablets will be distributed across the seven homes, which accommodate 248 beds, and will ensure residents maintain contact via video calling their families and relatives whilst they are staying indoors to protect from the risk of contracting coronavirus.

Staff have been working closely with families to ensure they keep contact with their loved ones in this evolving situation.

Executive board member for social care, Cllr Jane Tremlett said: “We are pleased we have been able to provide all our care homes with iPads which will help residents to keep in touch with their family members during these unprecedented and challenging times. Understandably these necessary restrictions placed on our care homes will cause distress to both the relative and resident so the use of this technology will hopefully help to close that gap. Already we have seen some positive results and residents have been overjoyed to see their family faces.”

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Abergwili: Police investigate death of couple in property on High Street

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE is investigating the sudden death of a man and a woman who died in a property at High Street, Abergwili, Carmarthen.

A spokesman said: “Police were called to the address shortly after 6pm on Thursday, 26 March 2020. Officers are currently investigating the circumstances of the deaths, which are being treated as unexplained.

“They are not being linked to COVID-19 at this time.

“Next of kin and HM Coroner are aware.”

The family said: “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of John David Bound and Gwendoline Christine Bound.

“The family wish for their privacy to be respected in their time of grief.”

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