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Primary pupils will start going back to school in June

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PRIMARY pupils will start going back to school on Monday 8 June, Education, Sport & Culture has announced.

Education, Sport & Culture President Matt Fallaize

But secondary schools will stay largely closed for now.

This comes as Guernsey moves into the next Covid-19 phase.

Monday 25 May is half term. The following week most pupils will still be doing distance learning, unless they are vulnerable or children of essential workers.

From Monday 8 June, students in primary schools will be able to attend school on two days each week. Approximately half of students will attend on Monday and Tuesday, with the other half attending on Thursday and Friday. Siblings at the same school will attend on the same days.

Wednesdays will be used for enhanced cleaning of schools and for teachers to have sufficient planning time to develop home learning activities for children to complete on the three days each week when they are not in school. Vulnerable students and children of essential workers will continue to be supported on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday if this is required.

Primary schools will contact parents during half term to provide details about how the system will operate at their school, including confirming which days of the week their child should attend.

Education, Sport & Culture President Matt Fallaize said they had been taking guidance from professionals in drawing up the plans.

'The ideal is for schools and colleges to be fully open and for all students to be allowed on site,' he said.

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'Unfortunately, at the moment, that is impossible as we must follow the public health advice.

‘Primary education is delivered in a way which makes it possible to get all students back into school two days each week. For example, it is normal for children to spend most of their lesson time in the same class and so it is less challenging to comply with public health requirements to maintain single classroom bubbles. On the other three days of the week, distance learning will not necessarily be quite the same as parents have come to recognise it in recent weeks, but teachers will provide some learning activities to be done at home.'

For the time being secondary schools will remain closed, except for vulnerable students and children of essential workers.

'Secondary education is delivered in a way which is very different from primary education,' Deputy Fallaize said.

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'For example, students move around every hour or so as they go from lesson to lesson. They have many different teachers every day. In many cases students have different classmates from one lesson to the next. At the moment, such practices are not possible in line with public health guidance on social distancing and bubbles.'

St Anne’s School in Alderney and Herm School have smaller class sizes. Discussions will be held with the leaders of those schools next week to assess whether there are opportunities to vary the Bailiwick arrangements in those islands after half term.

Separately, schools which support children with special educational needs and disabilities will broadly continue as they have in recent weeks.

From 1 June, the College of Further Education, which is part of The Guernsey Institute, will invite students to attend who would benefit most from on-site tuition, taking into account the specific requirements of their courses. The college campuses will accommodate no more than 50% of their normal number of students at any one time to allow for social distancing.

The latest public health advice also allows changes to be made in the early years phase. Pre-schools and nurseries will now be able to have more children on-site and, as far as possible, they will give priority to children in their pre-school year. The number of children permitted on any one site will be limited by staff-to-children ratios, the size of their premises and how the space is used, and providers must maintain bubbles of not more than eight children in a designated

space.

Early years providers must submit their plans to the States’ Early Years Team for approval.

Director of Public Health Dr Nicola Brink said closing education establishments had been a key part of Guernsey's pandemic response.

'I have no doubt that it helped slow the transmission of the virus that causes Covid-19 within the community,' she said.

'But given the gains we have made and the current positive position as we move through the phases of our exit strategy, now is the right time for schools to have the opportunity to start re-introducing more students as long as numbers are restricted, social distancing maintained and enhanced hygiene in place. Of note, is that this will only occur in three weeks’ time, giving us a further opportunity to build on what we, as a community, have achieved to date.'

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