Students needing to quarantine away from home as they return for Christmas will be housed in self-catering apartments above Liberation Station, the Assistant Education Minister has said.
Deputy Jeremy Maçon made the statement as he explained the latest set of recommendations to assist overseas university students in travelling back to Jersey over the festive period.
"We are looking at self-catering apartments above Liberation Bus station," Deputy Maçon told Express, "and that’s flexible in that we will pay for what we need and if we don’t need it then we won’t. But it gives us the capacity to step up so that if we have great demand we can use them."
However, he said that though Ministers had agreed that Jersey will provide the accommodation, "we’re still working on the policy on how we qualify that and what the terms and conditions will be - but that provision will be available."
PIctured: Assistant Education Minister Deputy Jeremy Maçon said that the policy for who would be accepted into accommodation was still forthcoming.
Despite this current lack of detailed policy for who is accepted, Deputy Maçon said it "will prioritise those living with someone who is vulnerable at home, or might be living with someone who’s a key worker - a teacher or a nurse for example."
"Also, we’ll give consideration to families on income support who generally live in smaller properties and therefore might struggle with isolating at home," he added.
He emphasised that these considerations would be "just for people in need – the majority we'll still ask to follow the normal guidance which is for people to isolate at home."
Deputy Maçon also explained that a revised policy will see the red zone isolation period go down to 10 days, with tests on day 0, day 5 and day 10. This enhanced three-day PCR testing will be used on amber and green zones too, though their isolation periods will remain the same as they have been.
Most UK universities sit in designated red zones under the island's travel classification system.
In addition, the Assistant Minister said that the Government will be supplementing cancelled commercial airline flights going forward through its contract with Blue Islands, which he claimed would be organised within the next two weeks - though encouraged students to use the commercial operators still available if they could.
But before any more solid policy is put in place or more flights are established, Deputy Maçon said the group would be sending out another survey in the next week. This survey will be the second in the space of a month sent to students.
Pictured: Deputy Maçon said that there would be full announcements around emergency Blue Islands flights within the next two weeks.
He said that the new survey was in response to the recent announcement from the UK of a 'travel window' from 3 to 9 December, during which period the UK Government is encouraging students to go back home.
"We have to have the most up to date information from students in order to design the policies around where travel is," Deputy Maçon said. "We know from the initial survey... where the majority of students will be studying - so we know where the clusters will be and we anticipate that we’ll probably put on a route to somewhere in the North, Midlands and possibly the South West as well. We need that information to know their travel plans so we know exactly where they’re going to be."
He encouraged students to check with their university to know when they can leave and go back, to make sure their details were registered on Student Finance so they can be contacted, and to engage with the survey.
When asked about students studying outside of the UK - of which the Government is aware of more than 20 - Deputy Maçon answered: "Most jurisdictions will be able to fly into London, so we would encourage those students to pursue those routes at the moment and that should sort them."
He added: "We have to be sensible about this, we have to be pragmatic. So for example we know for some students their courses break up late, they might have to go back early… it is down to those students to consider the practicalities of coming back to Jersey when they know there’s going to be an isolation period."
Pictured: Boarding School student Jack Lewis Rondel hit out at the Government's handling of both his situation and other students across the board.
The new advice follows increased pressure for action from the Government of Jersey in regards to getting students home, both from a local campaign group and a young boarding school student from Jersey, who explained the plight of students at boarding schools and universities in recent letter to Express.
In his letter, Jack Lewis Rondel quoted a message he had received from a university student, saying "I'm a student and I can't be asked to deal with the current issues surrounding travel so i'm not coming home till next summer."
Jack commented: "This hurts me to read and is exactly why I will continue to fight to help students get back home for Christmas, where they belong after the year we have all been through and they deserve some sort of normality."
Responses to the first survey sent out by the Government show that there are at least 700 students of the 1,700 studying overseas who are intending to come back home for Christmas.
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