Reform Jersey has urged the government to consider a phased early close down of primary schools in Jersey.
The government said last Friday (4 December) that schools, colleges and nurseries will stay open until the end of term, but calls for them to shut early have continued.
STAC advised the government that 'there is no medical reason' why schools should be shut early before the Christmas break, and the spread of the virus most likely didn't happen in the school environment.
However, the National Education Union argues that closing them early will minimise the risk of students and staff in education being contact traced just before Christmas. A petition calling for an early closure has been signed more than 3,000 times.
Please sign and share! Closing schools early will minimise the risk of students and staff in education being contact traced just before Christmas.Posted by Jersey National Education Union on Saturday, 5 December 2020
Reform Jersey has made several requests - including:
* For the minutes from the STAC meeting that drove the decision-making process on schools
* Defined trigger points that would see further measures such as partial or full school closures
* Clarity on how STAC assesses the risks for children in different key stages and year groups
* Reassessing the safety and mental health of school staff
* A more targeted approach to protect older students who may also be at greater risk - e.g. because they may have part-time jobs.
The Education Minister said on Friday that a flexible approach to attendance would be taken because of the significant concern some parents and carers have expressed.
Reform says a daily review of the current decision is needed - as a situation where parents remove their children from school on an ad-hoc basis is not adequate.
"We fully understand the difficulty of closing primary schools, but it must be clearly demonstrated that children and staff in these schools are not at risk as infection rates rise. We note that external exams are scheduled for January. Mismanagement of the current situation could mean young people having to isolate during this exam period. The same students who may have had previous exams disrupted. Assurance that considerations of this situation have been taken is vital.
"Therefore, we urge the Minister and Government to undertake a daily review of the current decision. A situation where parents remove their children from school on an ad hoc basis is not adequate and cannot provide the support for learning required.
With the alarming increase in Covid cases almost every day now, the government must be prepared to take action necessary...Posted by Reform Jersey on Sunday, 6 December 2020
"Reform Jersey understands that the decision to partially or fully close schools is not one to be taken lightly. We also understand the fears of parents and school staff that families are at increased risk of enforced isolation during the Christmas Holiday period should term continue beyond Friday. We ask that the Government acts swiftly to address the actions we have listed above, and further reassures parents and school staff that advice has been updated in consideration of the current level of community transmission."
The group also wants confirmation on whether the medical advice is that schools and colleges are safe to be exempt from the return to two metre physical distancing.
The government said last week. when announcing the return to two metres, that 'there will be alternative arrangements in place for areas like healthcare and schools.'
All secondary school students have been asked to wear masks from today. It has previously only been asked of Years 11 and above.
Teachers at primaries have also been strongly advised to wear them in class and shared areas.
Year 7 Grainville students have to learn from home today because a number of staff members are in isolation.
The government says hard learning copies will be made available to students who can't access online learning.
"The school will confirm plans for the rest of the week on Monday, and parents will be updated with more information." - Department for Children, Young People, Education and Skills.