Education Working On Plan For September School Return

The Children and Education Minister says his policy is to have schools open in September and for them to be as safe as possible.

Many parents are asking what the plan for the new school year is, given that most schoolchildren are unlikely to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

The JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) has advised that children aged between 12 and 15 who are clinically vulnerable or live with someone who is clinically vulnerable should get vaccinated.

The Government of Jersey is yet to confirm whether it is following those recommendations.

Ross Barnes, the Operational lead of Jersey's vaccine programme, says he's working with the Children's Commissioner and Children's Department on this now.

"We're waiting on final guidance from the JCVI and the UK on exactly what age groups will be eligible and we expect to be able to make some detailed announcements in the coming days and weeks."

The end of the school term was a tumultuous one - with many young people either testing positive, identified as direct contacts, or pulled out of school to reduce the risk of getting the virus before the summer holidays.

The average attendance in primary and secondary schools on the last day of the summer term was 74% and 70% respectively.

224 cases of coronavirus were found in schools between 12 and 15 July.

Education Minister Deputy Scott Wickenden has told Scrutiny he'll share the plan for September with them two weeks before term begins.

"We're looking at the plans across the schools, with the schools, about how we can open in September. Obviously, we'll keep an eye on what happens over the summer holidays and we will definitely have a plan, it will be ready to share with you two weeks before schools go back.

"If schools can't open, we need to make sure that we've got the home-schooling all set up and ready to go or the like, so we'll be looking across the board at what it would look like over the summer - new variants, travel, of course, all of that will be taken into consideration.

"It's about making sure that if schools are open, that they're open as safely as possible and make sure it doesn't increase in spread across the island."

Dr. Ivan Muscat told Channel 103 in a recent media briefing that consideration was being given to rolling out lateral flow coronavirus tests to more secondary school-age children.

From January 2021, they were offered to school staff and Year 11 to 13 students.

The rules for direct contact were changed a few days before the end of the summer term, with children told to stay off school if someone they live with has COVID-19.

Schools have been working in a bubble system and school-goers have been encouraged to wear masks in corridors where it is more difficult to physically distance.

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