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Guernsey Primary Schools Reopening Next Month

Guernsey will start allowing primary school students back to the classroom twice a week from Monday 8 June.

Its Education Department says around half will attend on Monday and Tuesday with the other half going on Thursday and Friday. Siblings at the same school will go on the same days.

Wednesdays will be used for 'enhanced cleaning' and giving teachers time to plan home learning activities for children when they're not at school.

Distance learning will remain in Guernsey when students and staff are back from half-term on 1 June, with the gradual reopening starting the following week.

Vulnerable students and children of essential workers will continue to be supported on all four days when primary schools are open.

Parents in Guernsey will be contacted during the half-term break to be told what days their child should attend and how the schools will operate.

Secondary schools will stay closed there for the time being until restrictions are eased further. Children of critical workers can still attend these settings.

"If secondary schools were to reopen to more students, each student would need to remain in one class throughout the school day, which would prevent the delivery of subject-specific lessons. Each student would have to be in school for half the school week or less and it would not be possible for secondary school staff to maintain Distance Learning to an acceptable standard for students to carry out during the days when they would be at home.

"The Committee is fully committed to getting secondary students back into school as soon as possible and will keep the arrangements under review so that it is ready to reopen schools more fully as soon as restrictions are relaxed further." - States of Guernsey.

Pre-schools and nurseries in Guernsey can have more children on site from 8 June but has to be limited to staff to children ratio, how big their premises is and how space is used.

"These are finely-balanced decisions and the Committee has been very careful to look at all the possible options from every angle and take into account the advice of professionals in public health and education. The ideal is for schools and colleges to be fully open and for all students to be allowed on site. Unfortunately, at the moment, that is impossible as we must follow the public health advice. None of the potential options for phased return were without weaknesses and challenges, and none would work well for every student, parent and member of staff.

"Primary education is delivered in a way which makes it possible to get all students back into school two days each week. For example, it is normal for children to spend most of their lesson time in the same class and so it is less challenging to comply with public health requirements to maintain single classroom bubbles. On the other three days of the week, Distance Learning will not necessarily be quite the same as parents have come to recognise it in recent weeks, but teachers will provide some learning activities to be done at home. This strikes the best balance currently available: all younger children will get back to having some experience of school with the opportunities that presents to spend time with other children and continue to develop their social skills." - Deputy Matt Fallaize, President of the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture.

Plans are still being considered for allowing Jersey school staff and children to return to schools across the island.

The Director-General of the Education Department, Mark Rogers, has told a Scrutiny hearing that a phased opening is the most likely scenario and that parents, carers and students will be given as much notice as possible as to when that will happen.

"This sort of incremental return is clearly something that we need to be working up as one way of youngsters coming back, but also even if we identify the sequence, it may be that not an entire year group or cohort can return simultaneously. We'll need to be looking at whether there's a rotation (like Guernsey have just announced).

Mark Rogers speaking in a virtual Scrutiny hearing about plans being formed to reopen schools in Jersey.

"One of the other factors that we need to take into account is transport as well. The way that children get to and from the school. There will be important discussions to be had with LibertyBus, but also with parents on if they are transporting children in their own private vehicles.

"Let's say a Year 6 was a group that was important to get back sooner rather than later, we may well have to do a morning and afternoon or alternate day set of arrangements."

Wellbeing checks will be offered to children as and when they can safely return to school in Jersey.

Education Minister Senator Tracey Vallois says the two major concerns remain to maintain physical distancing and preventing mass gatherings.

Jersey schools are closed until at least 1 June.

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