NEU Wants 'Frequent Testing' When Schools Reopen

A reliable tracking device and frequent testing are two things the Jersey branch of the NEU is keen to have in place for when schools open again.

They're currently shut until at least 1 June, with discussions ongoing on how to return in a safe and phased way.

Brendan Carolan says PPE, safety, hygiene, and movement between classes will also be important principles to consider.

He says regular testing is important.

"We already don't feel that the responsibility for if we have COVID that we could pass it on to pupils would be something we really want to face. Testing is vital for reassurances for parents more than anything else that the environment is safe and that they're confident for their children to go back."

Speaking in a Scrutiny hearing last week, the Director-General of the Education Department said 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.

There's no news on how exactly that will happen, but Mr. Carolan says he thinks it will be difficult to convince his members that anything different from the Guernsey approach of returning to the classroom would be acceptable.

Guernsey is reopening primary schools in a staged way from 8 June - with half of the students going in on Mondays and Tuesdays, the other half attending on Thursdays and Fridays and Wednesdays used for deep cleaning.

Secondary schools there are staying shut for the time being.

Mr. Carolan says the Jersey strategy could also make the return here more difficult.

"We are in a situation now in Jersey where we're not even allowed members of our own families to be going into each other's homes. They can meet socially distanced apart, but if we've got indoor areas where people from many families are congregating and that's something we're not doing as a general principle throughout the island and that's what would be required in schools - then we see a real problem here.

"If we phased reopened schools and parents basically don't feel safe about sending their children, then we really won't have much of a success in doing that.

"If there's a variation on what schools do then we've really got a problem because parents will ask themselves , why is that variation there?"

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