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'No Compelling Case' For Early School Closures Despite Outbreaks

Two Grainville school students tested positive for Covid-19 on 5 December. Year 7, 8, and 9 students have to work from home because of the number of isolating staff members.

17 Jersey students across 13 schools have tested positive for coronavirus since Thursday 3 December, but the Education Minister says the advice still states 'no compelling case' for schools to close early.

Cases in schools between 3 and 7 December:

* One Le Rocquier student tested positive on 3 December - currently isolating at home
* One Victoria College Prep member of staff tested positive on 3 December - currently isolating at home
* One Beaulieu Convent student tested positive on 3 December - currently isolating at home

* One Rouge Bouillon student tested positive on 4 December - currently isolating at home
* One St Saviour school student tested positive on 4 December - currently isolating at home
* One Haute Vallee student tested positive on 4 December - currently isolating at home
* One St John's school student tested positive on 4 December - currently isolating at home

* Two Grainville school students tested positive on 5 December - currently isolating at home. The school cannot currently accommodate Year 7,8, and 9 students.

* One Les Quennevais school student tested positive on 6 December - currently isolating at home
* One Bel Royal student tested positive  on 6 December - isolating at home. Students in two year groups and the Additional Resource Centre are currently isolating as a precaution while the track & trace process is completed.

* Mont'a'Labbe Nursery can't have any students at the moment because a number of staff members have to isolate.

* Two Plat Douet students tested positive on 7 December - currently isolating at home
* Two Rouge Bouillon students tested positive on 7 December - currently isolating at home
* Three full-time Highlands College students in the same class bubble and a member of support staff tested positive through on-site testing. All currently isolating at home. The student bubble has been sent home to isolate and potential direct contacts of the staff member have also also asked to isolate.

Class bubbles in all the above cases have been asked to isolate at home as a precaution while the track and trace process is completed.

All of the schools and colleges will stay open, following advice from Environmental and Public Health.

Education Minister, Senator Tracey Vallois, says the evidence still states that schools should remain open until the end of term.

"I am truly grateful for the commitment and dedication that our teachers and school leaders are demonstrating in providing continuity of education as we approach the end of the autumn term. I also fully understand that parents, students, teachers and unions will be concerned given the latest increase in Covid-19 cases in the community and, consequently, in our schools. 

"I have been monitoring the situation very closely, meeting with medical officers, officials and Ministerial colleagues. Continual assessement is taking place to ensure that I am provided with the most up to date health advice and I am also regularly reviewing the resourcing impacts that occur due to contact tracing and requirements for isolation.

"Today, the medical advice remains the same that there is no compelling case to suggest that schools should close early at this stage. The evidence continues to show that the health impact of the virus on children and staff is very low and if schools were to close it has an impact on the loss of education and poses mental health and wellbeing challenges for children and young people.

"In recognition of the concerns that some parents and carers have expressed, we will take a flexible approach to attendance and if any parent or carer has significant concern about attendance they should speak to their school.

"It is recognised that increasing staff shortages in our nurseries, schools and colleges may, unfortunately, lead to the necessity to close some classes to ensure pupils’ and staff health, safety and well-being is maintained for all.

"I would like to pay tribute to all of the school staff, children, young people and their families for the continued effort and understanding during these difficult times and we understand the anxieties some of you may be feeling."

Support is available for young people through their schools, the YES project, new online service Kooth, and the Children and Families Hub.

"I would like to stress again that I am keeping the school, college, and nursery situation under continuous review daily. If the resourcing impacts, operational or medical advice require to make a further decision I will update schools, parents and students immediately." - Senator Vallois.

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