YOUNGSTERS in Blaenau Gwent are responding “really well” to the Covid-19 vaccination programme, with 60 per cent of 12- to 15-year-olds having had a jab, councillors have been told.

At a meeting of the Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s Education and Learning scrutiny committee councillors were given an update on how the pandemic is continuing to effect schools as they head towards half term.

The council’s director of education, Lynn Phillips, said: “One of the important aspects at this juncture is the vaccination programme across the county borough for 12- to 15-year-olds is rolling out and progressing really well.

“As of this morning we have 60 per cent of our 12- to 15-year-olds who have now been vaccinated.”

Committee chairman Cllr Haydn Trollope told the committee that his grandson was amongst the numbers who’d been vaccinated.

Cllr Trollope said: “The youngsters have been looking forward to having their jab so that they feel safe, I feel it’s very positive.”

Mr Phillips explained that currently Blaenau Gwent figures showed a positive Covid rate of 518 per 100,000 he had been told by environmental health officials that the numbers would be “approaching” 800 per 100,000 in the next few days.

Mr Phillips told councillors that during the last 14 days there had been 142 positive cases amongst children in primary schools and 274 in secondary schools.

Mr Phillips said: “We are still experiencing high levels of positive cases and the highest incidence rates the under 16-year-old and that’s the current situation across the whole of Wales.”

He said that there at the moment the school workforce had potentially 40 cases with “23 confirmed positive cases” and a further two people had been told to self-isolate by contact tracers.

Mr Phillips added that a further two members of staff had ongoing health issued associated with “long Covid.”

Mr Phillips said: To compliment both catering and cleaning services are holding up at this point in time.”

As the schools approach the half term break they have managed to teach children face to face “pretty much across the board despite the challenges we’re facing,” said Mr Phillips.

Cllr David Wilkshire pointed out at the last meeting the figures for those off school with Covid have been 119 pupils and 10 staff.

Cllr Wilkshire said: “It seems to have increased considerably – what measure do we have in place if it goes up to 800 (per 100,000 population)?

“Are we taking preventative measures to keep our children and members of staff safe or are we taking it as we are?”

Mr Phillips explained that any measures to deal with Covid would be taken on a school-by-school basis.

And while the meeting was taking place, Mr Phillips said that work was being done with a secondary school to ramp up the protective measures such as reintroducing face coverings to deal with an increase of positive cases.