A local secondary school is having to close to two year groups this week as covid left staffing at a “critical” level.
Grainville Headteacher Sue Morris wrote to parents and guardians this morning to advise them that Year 9s would have to stay out of school on Tuesday and Year 11s on Wednesday.
The school was last week due to close to a year group per day because at least 10 teachers were absent, primarily due to being contact traced.
Other schools were also facing similar pressures as a result of contact tracing. As a result, the Government changed its policy for direct contacts, allowing them to avoid quarantine provided they agreed to testing and did not return a positive result.
Despite this, Grainville this morning reported that it was understaffed “following information received over the weekend”, and it’s understood that many more schools are having to make critical decisions about the final days of term due to covid-related staffing pressures.
On Thursday alone, four staff members across four different schools tested positive for covid-19.
Pictured: Four school staff members tested positive for covid on Thursday.
The covid test statistics for Friday, Saturday and Sunday are due to be released later today. On Friday, the total number of people recorded as having covid in the island fell just short of 1,000, with 6,856 direct contacts.
The latest R report said that every individual with the virus was infecting around two other people on average.
The National Education Union told Express last week that staff feared they were being viewed as “collateral damage” by Government, and also were concerned about potentially spreading the virus to their students, which may lead to long-term effects.
This afternoon, the national branch of NASUWT accused the Government of being “reckless”.
General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach said Ministers had failed to provide the scientific evidence to justify such a decision at a time when case numbers are soaring and before all school staff have had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated.
“The abrupt timing of this decision and the failure to give schools time to prepare has caused alarm and anxiety among staff and parents.
“Schools must now take such appropriate steps to ensure safety onsite, including revised risk assessments which may include the need for additional measures such as providing education separately for pupils who have been advised to take a covid test but who refuse to do so.
“Extra mitigations for staff who are at greater risk from covid will also need to be considered by schools.
“This pandemic is far from over and now is not the time for complacency by ministers.
“The focus should remain the safety and welfare of school staff, children and young people as we move towards the end of term.”
Reform Jersey said it had urged Ministers to meet with headteachers to hear their concerns, but that this request had fallen on deaf ears. Instead, civil servants were sent to meet with them.
The Government had said the reason it had scrapped isolation for direct contacts was primarily for children's wellbeing, rather than because the contact tracing system had crumbled under the pressure of rocketing case numbers and testing system glitches over the weekend.
The party added: "This situation has arisen because of the failures in managing the track and trace system.
"The Government must now be open and transparent about the consequences of their decisions, and be prepared to listen to those who are suffering the negative effects to ensure people are not abandoned and effective protections are put in place."
Express has approached the Government for comment.
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