Students should be welcomed home for Christmas, the Director of Public Health has said, as senior officials reiterated what is required of them upon their return from university.
Ahead of their arrival, an information pack was distributed to all returning students, which laid out what they needed to do prior to travel, what to expect when they arrive and how to undertake their isolation.
“We have been very impressed with the mature approach shown by Bailiwick students, a number of whom have already returned home,” said ESC President Andrea Dudley-Owen.
“[We] wanted to give them as much support as possible so the pack of information sent to them provides all the detail they need, for their journey and arrival, in one place.”
The additional student flights are the result of ‘Operation Jingle Bells’, which began in October to figure out how many off-island students wished to return for the holidays, and what could be done to facilitate that safely.
Pictured: The ‘Operation Jingle Bell’ flights remain secure, in spite of the UK going into a second lockdown in late November.
The result of that work is a series of additional flights in early December, departing from a variety of regional airports and initially made available exclusively to students. These were scheduled in such a way as to allow them to isolate for a full 14 days prior to the Christmas period.
There were public concerns about whether or not students would follow the guidance properly, or that they would face a more ‘lenient’ regime to allow them to return. Since October, various States’ members have sought to confirm that neither of these are the case.
“Our returning students are no different to anyone else travelling into the island that require an immediate 14-day self-isolation,” said States’ CEO Paul Whitfield.
“Maintaining the requirements are not only important for those individuals, but doing so correctly helps safeguard the protection against Covid for our community.”
Director of Public Health Dr Nicola Brink said that the behaviour of students, many of whom have already returned and fulfilled their requirements, should not be a concern for islanders.
Pictured: Director of Public Health Dr Nicola Brink.
“My experience of students that have returned is that they are adhering to everything we’re asking them to do. I actually have a lot of them phoning me to check that they’re doing the right thing,” she said.
“I want us to say, ‘let’s welcome our students home, it’s great to have them home for Christmas, please all stick to the rules.’ I think it’s important that we have a positive approach to our students coming back.”
Deputy Dudley-Owen has also sought to reassure islanders that the Bailiwick’s border regime is more than capable of detecting incoming cases.
“As we have seen in recent weeks, the testing on arrival process has been working very well in terms of picking up cases and ensuring they are immediately contained.
“As part of our communications with students, we have explained that the arrivals process is now very different, and reassured that there is a team of specially-trained staff meeting all passengers to support them.
“We look forward to students returning, completing the mandatory self-isolation and then being able to enjoy Christmas on their own island.”
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