Return to classroom ‘will look and feel strange, but is safe’

SCHOOL staff are excited to welcome students back next week.

Education president Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen. (29306855)
Education president Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen. (29306855)

Guidance was sent directly to all parents and carers with information on staggered pick-up and drop-off times and on securing school transport if needed.

Parents who are particularly concerned about their children returning or who did not receive this information are urged to contact their school.

‘As we head towards next week when all students will return to schools, the College of FE and early years providers, education will look and feel very different to what everyone is used to,’ said Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen, president of Education, Sport & Culture.

‘We know that there may be some parents who are very concerned about sending their children back to school – it’s only natural. But we would encourage all students to return and can absolutely reassure the community that we wouldn’t be reopening to all students unless we felt it was safe to do so.’

While nothing is risk-free, she said, Public Health has created a suite of safety measures to allow a safe return.

‘If any parents, however, really don’t want to send to send their children in next week, I would urge you again to contact the school to discuss.’

Safety measures include classroom bubbles for all but GCSE and A-level year groups.

Face coverings are recommended for older students and staff.

One-metre social distancing will be in place, although it is recognised this will be challenging to maintain at all times, particularly for younger children.

Staggered start and finish times will prevent crowding, with limited school transport available to minimise contact between students.

Enhanced cleaning measures will be implemented.

A specific testing strategy has also been designed by Public Health for education staff and older students in year group bubbles.

Deputy Dudley-Owen thanked Public Health for ensuring schools can open as safely as possible and island organisations that kept children active and safe during lockdown.

‘Everyone involved in education is so excited to welcome all students back next week.’

Juggling distance learning and life commitments was challenging for parents and carers, she said, who know how much teachers work to support them.

‘But I also know how challenging it’s been for all our amazing teachers, school staff and education officers who have worked so hard to ensure the programme of distance learning has been a success.’

Deputy Dudley-Owen emphasised how teachers ensured critical services were maintained throughout lockdown, epitomising the Guernsey Together spirit.

‘Through their commitment, we have kept education settings open for the most vulnerable students and the children of essential workers. The island simply would not have been able to maintain critical services for the community during this challenging period had they not done so. There is no other way to describe the significance of their efforts.’

Alderney moves to stage three on Tuesday with St Anne’s returning to a normal school experience.

‘I hope that they all enjoy being back to that level of freedom and that we in Guernsey can follow soon,’ said Deputy Dudley-Owen.

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