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Minister Allinson's statement on COVID-19 - 29 June 2020

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Thank you Chief Minister

Today Isle of Man students started their second full week back in their classrooms. Teachers and parents have contacted me about how well this transition back to normality has been and I would like to thank all of them for their patience and flexibility.

For those young people who found the last three months difficult we need to provide space, care, understanding and allow them to heal.

The mental and physical wellbeing of all our staff and students has been the number one priority as we have dealt with the challenges COVID-19 posed.

A lot has already been done to prepare teachers to reintegrate students back into their classes after being isolated at home for so long.

But we also need to build greater resilience as we manage the risk this virus may present in the future and the anxiety this may cause.

Being able to talk openly about this is important, but some parents and young people may not feel able to do this at the present whilst they reflect on the last three months and what has gone on in their lives.

The Safer Schools App was launched on the island in September 2019 giving our schools and UCM access to current information on our ever changing world in order to keep young people safer when online.

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic we are adapting how the App is operated and extending access to the wider community. There are resources about mental health and wellbeing as well as alerts about possible on-line harms. I would like to thank Zurich Municipal for their ongoing support of this important free resource and details of how to register are available on the Department for education, Sport and Culture webpage.

As we emerge from a state of national emergency a range of services are now getting back to normal.

The Broadway Cinema at the Villa Marina is now open for business and gives you the opportunity to catch up with the films you missed seeing on the big screen.

The Dragon’s Castle indoor soft play centre can now be booked and extra hygiene facilities have been provided for everyone’s safety.

Guided tours of the Gaiety Theatre have re-started and you can now book tickets for a number of events over the summer.

Unfortunately some shows have had to be cancelled or postponed but we will be looking to arrange for more acts and shows over the summer capitalising on the strength of Manx Culture and encouraging more people to enjoy the entertainment the island has to offer and help support local artists.

Over the last few months many people have had a chance to realise the benefits of exercise. Whether it is the calming effects of a walk in our beautiful countryside or getting your pulse rate up by running or cycling I think we all now appreciate the positive benefits of setting aside some time to look after our body and mind.

Today the NSC pool reopened. The spa suite is also back in action and the Jacuzzi will be operational by Wednesday.

All the regional pools are now open and there are programmes suited for all types of swimmers.

Opening up our sports facilities is also important for the summer holiday activities we offer for children from the end of this school term over the entire course of the summer.

Manx Sport and Recreation will be running a full programme of multisport schemes at the NSC, regional pitches and schools in Peel, Castletown and Ramsey. Bookings can now be made online or through the NSC reception.

The Youth Services will also be offering a number of holiday clubs, trips and wellbeing activities for children in years 4 to 6 and upwards.

It is important that we recognise the power of play as well as the value of education. Children and young people will be supported by their teachers over the coming weeks with learning and encouragement, but we need to continue this reassurance and support through the summer to enable everyone to start the new school year in September with a positive attitude and a thirst for knowledge.

Education, sport and our culture are so important for our community. Over the coming weeks and months please support what we have on the island, help us regain what was put on hold during the state of emergency so that we can emerge stronger together.

Thank you.