As local students head into their ninth week of remote learning, concerns have been raised about fees paid by parents of pupils at Guernsey's private colleges, which have remained mostly the same although the majority of children can't attend lessons at their schools.
It was announced last week that primary schools could begin a phased return from 8 June, but it is yet unclear when secondary schools will be able to open their doors once again.
With many of the island's workers taking a financial hit from the pandemic, some parents have questioned why college costs haven't dropped while the schools are closed to most students.
But, the colleges maintain that teaching staff are having to work round the clock to ensure students are supported from their homes while also caring for the children of essential workers, where need be.
"We are very aware of the financial strain that many individuals and businesses are under as a result of the pandemic and indeed the college is not immune," a spokesperson for Elizabeth College said. "We have encouraged those parents who are experiencing financial challenges to get in touch so that we are able to offer support and/or flexibility. This approach has been positively received by those who have expressed difficulties.
Pictured: Children have been studying from home since schools closed in March.
"While we recognise the financial pressure some of our parents are under, many costs are fixed. Staff are working as hard as ever, whether it be in support or delivery of the virtual school or the maintenance of sites and buildings. However, the college is actively seeking to reduce costs where possible and, if savings can be made, these will be passed on to our fee-paying parents."
Elizabeth College has set up a 'virtual school' timetable for each year group and has been working in partnership with The Ladies' College to come up with a new programme of learning for those in Years 11 and 13. Rather than going on study leave and sitting their GCSE or A Level exams, the students are now able to prepare for the next step of their academic lives.
"We appreciate that covid-19 is having an effect on everyone in our community and the longer that it goes on the more challenging this is educationally, emotionally and financially," commented the Principal of The Ladies' College, Ashley Clancy.
"Now that we know that remote learning will continue longer term, we are reviewing all of the options to ensure our provision remains sustainable and that the college will be in a position to re-open as soon as this is permitted. This includes a review of the resources required and the associated costs.
"It is our intention to pass on any savings that we might be able to achieve as a result of the college being closed for a period of time, during the Trinity Term. We will update parents and guardians as soon as we are able."
Pictured: Many parents have faced financial difficulties throughout the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Blanchelande is liaising with the States in an attempt to get the school up and running sooner rather than later.
"Dr Brink made it very clear in her statement that now that the risk on Guernsey has decreased ‘it is up to the educationists to backtrack on to the public health risks’," the Principal, Robert O'Brien wrote to parents. "Therefore, the Governors, with me, the SLT and staff need to now produce a plan that will enable Blanchelande to comply with Public Health’s clear instructions for schools as soon as possible.
"As a college with smaller class sizes than States schools and an abundance of outside space, we are hopeful that we can reach a sensible and favourable arrangement.
"There is a lot of detail (room by room and class by class risk assessments, etc.) to bring together to formulate that plan and I will, of course, communicate with you as soon as possible following our liaison with the States authorities."
No decisions have been made yet on when secondary school students will be able to return to their classrooms.
Pictured top: Guernsey has three private colleges which are mainly attended by fee paying students.
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