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Plans in place due to high school absence levels

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Plans to prevent disruption to face-to-face lessons remain in place after a small number of schools reported high student and staff absence levels this week.

The majority of staff and students were unable to attend due to winter illnesses such as colds and flu, but vomiting bugs and COVID-19 are also causes.

The Department of Education, Sport and Culture (DESC) is working closely with schools and University College Isle of Man (UCM) to offer support and assistance with supply teachers.

Dr Alex Allinson MHK, Minister for Education, Sport and Culture:

'This is a difficult time of year with winter illnesses spreading easily amongst young people.

'We are aware of some schools, particularly secondary schools, struggling more than others and are doing what we can to help. If absence levels continue to rise in some these settings then we might be forced to ask agreed year groups to work on set work from home. However, this would be a last resort.'

All educational settings maintain proportionate measures, including enhanced ventilation, carbon dioxide monitors and extra hygiene, and secondary students and all staff are encouraged to wear a face covering and take two lateral flow tests each week.

So far this term, 358 positive cases of COVID-19 (328 students and 30 staff) have been confirmed within educational settings, but in recent weeks the number of people unable to attend due to other illnesses has risen sharply in some schools.

Dr Henrietta Ewart, Director of Public Health, said:

'In view of the significant levels of absence in schools due to winter illnesses, and the continuing transmission of COVID-19, it is a good time to remind ourselves of the importance of ‘hands, face, space’.

If any student or staff member feels unwell they should notify their school and stay at home. Anyone displaying COVID-19 symptoms should call 111 or arrange a PCR test online