Students returned to school this morning freed from the expectation of wearing masks in classrooms and other teaching spaces for the first time since before Christmas.
Face coverings were removed by thousands of students as they entered classrooms in secondary schools and further education.
Older children were originally asked and then expected to wear masks as the Bailiwick faced a surge in cases of the omicron variant of covid-19 around Christmas and New Year.
The number of cases of covid-19 has since fallen sharply – from around 2,500 at its peak to around 500 at the end of last week – and the Civil Contingencies Authority and other States' committees are rapidly removing restrictions and liberalising covid rules.
Director of Education Nick Hynes said that allowing children to remove masks in classrooms was “a further positive step as we all seek to return to a more normal educational experience”.
Pictured: Nick Hynes, Director of Education, announced the relaxation of rules on face coverings in schools, which are effective from today.
Masks remain compulsory in communal areas for students and staff in secondary schools and further education and for staff in primary schools. But there are indications that the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture may feel able to remove this requirement before too long.
Mr Hynes said: “At this stage, we are maintaining the compulsory wearing of face coverings in communal areas, but we hope to be able to relax mitigations further in a staged approach over the coming weeks.”
Really encouraging as we move forward. So pleased that we are able to do this! https://t.co/nzKObtHzEX— Nicola Brink MBE (@DrNicolaBrink) January 22, 2022
Pictured: Dr Nicola Brink, the island's Medical Officer of Health, was among those celebrating the removal of face coverings in classrooms across the Bailiwick as the "wave of omicron infections" which she correctly predicted some weeks ago continued to abate.
Mr Hynes thanked staff and students for patiently adhering to stronger covid rules.
"I want to thank staff and students for the way they have adhered to the expectation around wearing face coverings in classrooms in recent weeks," he said.
"In particular, our young people have acted with great maturity and are a credit to the island."
Meanwhile, many offices and other workplaces are expected to be busier from today as the States have withdrawn their request for people to work from home.
In recent days, rules and restrictions around travel have also been liberalised and the minimum period of isolation for anyone testing positive for covid-19 has been reduced from seven days to six days.
Pictured: The latest testing results, released by the States just before the weekend, included only 28 new known active cases of covid-19 in the previous 24-hour period.
The fall in the number of cases of covid-19 has also allowed the States to reintroduce the option of PCR tests for anyone testing positive on a lateral flow test.
This option was scrapped in between Christmas and New Year as the Bailiwick's testing facilities struggled to keep up with demand.
"Following the steep decline in case numbers, we are now in a position to again offer islanders the choice should they wish to have a PCR test following a positive lateral flow test," said the States.
"If that PCR is negative, then the requirement to self-isolate will fall away.
"People who were symptomatic but testing lateral flow negative were always able to have a PCR test and this will remain the case.
"It is important to emphasise that this change is about offering flexibility for islanders. There is no requirement to have a confirmatory PCR test if a positive lateral flow test is present."
Pictured: PCR tests are once again available to anyone who has a positive lateral flow test and wants to confirm whether or not they have covid-19.
Dr Nicola Brink, the island's Medical Officer of Health, said: "I want to thank islanders for the fantastic response we had to our change of testing strategy, announced over the Christmas weekend.
"At that time, we were seeing significant increases in the number of positive cases and needed to streamline the management of cases with a focus on community testing on lateral flow tests. We have continued to see islanders doing the right things, following the guidance and for that we are grateful.
"But as cases have now dropped so rapidly, we are in a position to again offer the flexibility of a PCR test should an islander want it following a positive lateral flow test. This does mean that you can be released immediately if your PCR test is negative.
"It is not a requirement for anyone to do this. We are offering this option for people who wish to take this up."
Pictured (top): Elizabeth College students look pleased as they remove their face coverings in class this morning.
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