Year 6, 10 and 12 pupils in Jersey can go back to school from Monday 8 June.
Private Nurseries will be able to welcome back a set number of children into “bubbles” or small groups, and children will also be allowed to return to their childminder or nanny from the same date.
The government says officials will continue to look at medical evidence to see if it's 'appropriate and feasible' for more primary school pupils to go back two weeks later.
Details on when other secondary age pupils can go back are being kept under review.
The decision to allow these pupils to return follows advice from health professionals, who say:
- The risk of children being AWAY from school currently outweigh the health risk from COVID-19 of them being in school.
- Schools are safe to start re-opening as soon as possible, prioritising year groups suggested by education professionals, as long as safety measures are in place.
- Children should return as soon as 'is practically possible', whilst making sure public health measures can be maintained.
- Growing evidence that children are not super-spreaders and that when infected, they are at no more risk than adults
- It's in children's best interest to return to school.
The Children's Department says it's working closely with public health colleagues to make sure safety measures in place in all schools, which include:
- Not allowing symptomatic children or staff go to school
- Implementing a bubble approach where groups of children and their teacher stay together. Different bubbles won't be allowed to interact. if bubbles aren't appropriate, physical distancing must be maintained.
- A staggered start, lunch, breaks and pick-ups
- Making PPE available to staff if someone develops symptoms.
- Marking corridors and stairwells to maintain distancing
- Not using shared equipment when it can't be cleaned between users (e.g. playground tablets, books)
- Increased cleaning
Education Minister, Senator Tracey Vallois, says the department is keen to get children back to the classroom whilst making sure it's safe to do so.
"The safety of children, staff and their families remain the absolute priority. I would like to thank pupils, parents and schools for patiently waiting for an update. I am immensely grateful for all the hard work that has gone on since we closed schools, colleges and nurseries, on 20 March. This has been an extremely complex piece of work.
"As a parent myself, I know how extremely difficult this situation has been for families across the Island. Your fortitude is recognised and appreciated. I am also so proud of how our schools, teachers, support staff, childminders, nurseries and nannies have adapted to the changes and continued to put children first. I know how much children have all missed their friends, teachers and schools, which is why we are working hard, following the health advice, to ensure that more children can return to school as soon as is practically possible, while ensuring that public health measures can be maintained."
Primary schools will open to Year 6 full-time, with only some face to face teaching for years 10 and 12.
Highlands College will also re-open for years 12 and 13.
"International experience has taught us so much about COVID-19 in the last five months since it first was recognised as a global threat. Covid-19 is less easily spread by children than adults – unlike ‘flu where children have always been known to be super spreaders. We know now, too, that most children with COVID-19 infection experience only minor symptoms, and very rarely need hospital treatment.
"On the other hand, there is accumulating evidence of worrying collateral harm from COVID-19 restrictions, to children and young people worldwide, and no less so in Jersey. This includes harm to their education and life chances, worsening educational inequalities, adverse childhood experiences building up, such as the impact of parental mental health problems, domestic violence, alcohol misuse, passive smoking, and possible unrecognised abuse of children behind closed doors. We know too that there have been worsening mental health problems in children and young people themselves, needing more hospital admission in Jersey since lockdown.
"Children and their families should feel confident, about COVID-19, about getting back to school as soon as they can. Covid-19 poses very little risk to children and there is so very much to gain in terms of their general health, wellbeing and safety of returning to school. I am delighted that Jersey has reached a position of such effective suppression of COVID-19 in our Island that it is right, and very timely, to confidently enable children to return back to schools under a careful phased approach." - Dr. Susan Turnbull, Medical Officer for Health.
More to follow...