This week has seen Islwyn schoolchildren return to school. On June 3 the Welsh Education Minister signalled that schools would re-open from June 29. The intention is for children to “catch up” and “check in” for a number of days before the summer holidays begin.

I want to thank the leadership of council leader Philippa Marsden, Caerphilly County Borough Council chief executive Christina Harrhy and school staff for ensuring that Islwyn children will enjoy this opportunity, if their parents so wish.

We need to find ways for schools to work, in some capacity, whilst observing social distancing as we are likely to face these challenges throughout the 2020/21 academic year.

The Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has rightly reiterated that the Covid-19 pandemic has not ended. In Wales the Welsh Government has taken a caution approach to easing lockdown regulations, which are reviewed every three weeks. Coronavirus has not gone away. As I write this, the death toll in Wales to the dreadful disease sits at 1,502. The cases of coronavirus have been reported to Public Heath Wales takes the total to 15,602. The need for us to be vigilant remains.

Balancing public health requirements with restoring the economy are challenges faced by every country throughout the world. My inbox displays the concerns that business have about when and how they will be able to operate once again after lockdown. There are no easy answers. I share the concern for every high street throughout Islwyn.

I spoke in a virtual meeting of the Senedd recently about the threats the pandemic offers to our cultural soul as a nation.

It is no hyperbole when I starkly state the arts sector as we know it is now in the gravest danger.

I will urge the Welsh Government to lobby the UK government to urge that:

* The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme continues beyond May 2020 and the Job Retention Scheme continues beyond October 2020

* and the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme is revised to ensure no freelance workers fall through the gaps in eligibility for the scheme.

In 2008 the Labour UK government bailed out the banks with a massive capital injection.

In 2020 the arts sector in Wales and the UK requires a large scale capital injection of principally UK government money followed by Welsh Government money.

These are incredibly challenging times but the resilience of the people of Islwyn continues to impress me.