05 January 2022
Minister for Children and Education, Deputy Scott Wickenden, has thanked students and staff for their "tremendous efforts" in making the return to school COVID safe in the face of challenging circumstances.
Yesterday, a total of 14,300 students returned to Government of Jersey schools. A total of 540 students at three schools were taught remotely, due to 116 teaching staff and 115 non-teaching staff being absent from schools.
Schools continue to manage staff absence using a range of resources. This includes rotating remote learning through classes so no one class is unfairly disadvantaged. In addition, some Headteachers and Deputy Headteachers are covering class teaching to keep more students in school.
Given the extraordinary circumstances, schools continue to take a compassionate approach to attendance. Students who test positive for COVID-19 should not attend school and should continue their learning remotely only if they are well enough to do so.
In recognition of the concerns due to COVID-19, the Department for Children, Young People, Education and Skills have advised schools to take a compassionate approach to attendance on a case-by-case basis.
Group Director of Education, Seán O'Regan, said: "With the increase in COVID-19 cases, we know that there are some parents who will feel concerned about the return to school.
"As we have done through the pandemic we continue to urge parents to send their children to school, as long as they are asymptomatic and have not tested positive for COVID-19, and do not have any specific medical vulnerability.
"Not attending school has an impact on children and young people's learning, health and well-being at critical developmental stages. The greatest negative impact is on the most vulnerable children. With risk mitigation measures in place, schools are safe environments for children"
"If you are concerned about your child's attendance, you should speak to your school in the first instance. Headteachers have the discretion to make decisions when a student is not attending school for compassionate reasons. This could include, for example, where a parent or other family members have COVID-19 and are unable to take their child to school.
"An unauthorised absence may occur when a young person doesn't attend school, without reason, but both they and their household are COVID-free.
"Children who need to shield because they are more at risk – or live with someone who is clinically at risk – can provide a letter from a medical practitioner. They will be not marked as an unauthorised absence."
Minister for Children and Education, Deputy Scott Wickenden, said: "It is a challenging time, and I understand that some staff, students and parents – may be feeling anxious about the return to school, given the increase in COVID-19 cases in the last few weeks.
"We already have a range of safety measures in place to limit to spread of COVID-19 in schools, and we've seen that staff and students have been quick to adopt these measures – such as mask wearing, handwashing, extra cleaning, and social distancing.
"Because the Omicron variant is more transmissible – although less severe - we've also reintroduced masks in classrooms. Again, staff and students have come back to school, on the first day of term, ready to adapt again, and I'd like to give them my sincere thanks for their tremendous effort and resilience.
"Our schools have faced 22 months of non-stop challenges. Throughout that whole time, staff have shown amazing patience, professionalism, and dedication in continuing to educate children and young people as we navigate through these difficulties.
"I'd like to extend my sincere thanks to each and every one of them, and to those who are stepping outside of their usual roles to support students at the start of this term and put children first."