Schoolchildren and teachers across the Bailiwick are back in face masks and classroom bubbles today as part of a “package of enhanced measures” in response to covid-19 cases hitting a new high over the past week.
At least 2,000 people - possibly many more - contracted the virus in the seven days up to Tuesday and by then the number of known active cases was 2,574.
Schools are experiencing rising rates of absence among students, teachers and other staff. Around half of schools report significant concerns about staffing levels.
The Committee for Education, Sport & Culture has responded by reintroducing a range of rules and restrictions in States-run schools "to support the priority objective of keeping...schools and settings fully operational and therefore minimising any disruption to young people’s education".
Pictured: A new wave of covid-19 infections has forced students and staff in secondary schools back into face masks from today.
From this morning, staff in States' schools and students in States' secondary schools and further education must wear a face covering when inside school buildings, including classrooms. Face coverings are not mandatory for children in States' primary schools.
Primary schools will, however, reintroduce classroom bubbles where possible and so will secondary schools for students in the first three year groups - years seven to nine.
Schools may stagger drop-off and pick-up times to limit the number of people on site at any one time. Extra-curricular activities run by schools are once again cancelled and there will be no assemblies involving whole schools.
The Committee said there might be "slight variations at each [school or] setting depending on their specific circumstances and operational needs".
The grant-aided colleges are communicating with parents about which of the measures they are adopting or adapting to suit their circumstances.
The Committee said the measures were developed in consultation with public health officials and are necessary "to help alleviate pressures in settings because of the current wave of covid-19 infections".
Many of the rules in place from this morning will be familiar since they were relaxed only a few weeks ago when the number of covid-19 cases appeared to be under control following a period of legal restrictions on movement and mixing.
Pictured: Nick Hynes, Director of Education, said that all of the measures introduced today have been used in schools during previous waves of the covid-19 pandemic.
Nick Hynes, Director of Education, said: "This is undoubtedly a challenging time for education settings, which is also being experienced by other essential services and private companies, due to the number of positive cases at the moment.
"A number of our schools and settings currently have staffing concerns and we all remain focused on managing disruption as a result of absences while maintaining our absolute focus of keeping settings open and delivering education.
"This package of enhanced measures will be familiar to our staff, students and parents and carers as we are not introducing anything now that hasn’t been in place before. When we have had to revert to these enhanced measures previously, it has served us well, so I’m hopeful that they can do so again as long as we continue to have the support of all involved in the delivery of education.
"I am sure that will be the case, so I again take this opportunity to thank all staff and the community in advance for working with us to ensure these measures have the desired impact."
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