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Children deemed direct contacts told to stay away from school

Children deemed direct contacts told to stay away from school

Wednesday 14 July 2021

Children deemed direct contacts told to stay away from school


With just two days left of the school term, the Government has rushed out new guidance to schools and colleges in response to rising cases and the recent withdrawal of the isolation requirement for anyone identified as a direct contact.

Under the current guidance, if they have agreed to be tested, then children and young people who are direct contacts of a covid confirmed case are allowed to attend school in advance of the result.

But in response to questions raised by teachers and their unions, new Education Minister Scott Wickenden has said that children should not attend school if there is a covid case in their home.

The updated guidance is: 

  • Headteachers ultimately have the discretion to require a child or young person not to attend school if there is a case of covid in their home. Although the recommendation of the Minister to stay at home has no legal weight, the decision of a headteacher to allow or exclude a pupil has.
  • If a test is declined by a direct contact, then the child or young person must not attend for 14 days. 
  • If cases continue to rise in classes and there is the likelihood of rapid and widespread infection occurring, resulting in the further and significant absence of both children and staff, the Education Department will make a decision with schools to close a class or year group until the end of term. Online learning will be available to those classes where staffing is sufficient.   
  • It is strongly advised that masks continue to be worn by staff and students in communal areas in all secondary school settings. Staff in primary settings are likewise encouraged to do the same.
  • With the increase in cases in schools, and primary settings especially, headteachers are encouraged to support children or young people who want to wear a mask in class to be allowed to do so.

Discussions on the guidance for nurseries and summer activity clubs are ongoing, with officials liaising with the Jersey Early Years Association.

The updated guidance comes as figures reveal that there have been 397 confirmed cases of covid in schools (351 pupils and 47 staff) since half-term. 

This is higher compared to the four-week period in the Autumn term, which was 229 confirmed cases of covid (198 pupils and 31 staff).

Deputy Wickenden said: “There is now no isolation requirement for anyone identified as a direct contact, but direct contacts are expected to participate in the testing programme, in order to understand whether they are positive for covid.

“However, in order to ensure that our children and staff are as a safe as possible in schools, during the last few days of the academic year, I am issuing updated guidance that makes it clear that children should not attend school if there is a covid case in their home. 

“This would include if a parent, carer or sibling of that child or young person, or anyone living in their home, has tested positive. 

“We will update the position for nurseries once we have consulted the early years sector.

He added: “The Department has also agreed with STAC and the Competent Authorities Ministers (CAM) that, in consultation with education officials, schools can make a decision to close a class or year group until the end of term if there is the likelihood of rapid and widespread infection occurring, resulting in the further and significant absence in both children and staff. 

“This doesn’t mean that children need to be isolating in their rooms if they are not in school and in order to ensure their best mental health and wellbeing is supported, they should be able to enjoy fresh air outside, where possible under the current public health guidelines. 

“Insofar as is practicable with staffing levels, pupils will be expected to undertake home learning given that the decision will be that it is in their best interest not to attend school.”

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