Schools in Jersey have closed to reduce the spread of coronavirus, and are only open, along with a small number of nurseries and childminders, to look after the children of critical workers and vulnerable children for whom no other arrangements can be made by their parents or carers.
Initially, only Government services had access to the limited number of school and nursery places offered for critical workers.
Further additions to the critical services list have been made to include those in the wider health and community care services, such as residential and nursing homes, hospice, community nurses, General Practices and pharmacies.
The offer also extends to key infrastructure organisations providing essential food supplies, post, telecommunications, gas and water services. Additional infrastructure organisations include the Ports of Jersey, where the key supply chains are working well.
The number of places remains capped, to ensure strict social distancing is maintained within schools and nurseries to help safeguard children and staff alike.
In a joint statement, Education Minister, Senator Tracey Vallois and Children’s Minister, Senator Sam Mézec, said: "We would like to thank all of our schools, nurseries and childminders for supporting our critical workers’ children and vulnerable children during these challenging and unprecedented times.
"Providing places for the children of critical workers and those identified as vulnerable is critical in maintaining our Island’s essential services and offering safety and security for those children at more risk than others.
"Figures from the first wave of the critical workers list show that the number of children attending school is low, and we thank parents for making the right choice and minimising the use of this service by making alternative arrangements, playing their part in our fight against Coronavirus.
"This provision is only to support our front-line critical services and parents must do everything they can to protect our health system and save lives.
"Organisations must do all they can to enable parents to stay at home, so that their children can also be kept at home, to minimise demand for school place and childcare.
"Keeping schools open to look after the children of critical workers is intended to help critical workers to go to work and to maintain essential services.
"We would like to offer our sincere thanks to all of our civil servants, headteachers, teachers, our nurseries and their staff and Jersey’s childminders for their commitment to enable essential services to continue across our Island and to look after our vulnerable children. This is an unprecedented time for us all and you are putting children first. We applaud your endeavours to rise to this ambition.
"We will continue to work closely with all of our early years providers to ensure that the financial support available from the Government, through the measures announced last week, allows nurseries and childminders to continue to deliver this vital service for the community of Jersey based on our Deputy Chief Medical Officer advice."
We are keen to do our part to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic by ensuring that the children of critical workers can still attend to vital services over Easter. We are working with childminders, nurseries, headteachers and staff unions to see if this is possible.
The wider list of critical workers including an online form for applications is available here.
Applications must be supported by employers and we anticipate being able to offer places for children to attend their usual school or nursery from Wednesday, 1 April.