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Plans to get children back in school ramped up

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Plans to get all children back to school are being ramped up after the Chief Minister revealed the Island will become the first place in the British Isles to end social distancing rules.

On Thursday, Howard Quayle MHK, announced it will no longer be a legal requirement to socially distance on the Island from Monday.

It comes after the Island recorded a third consecutive week without a COVID-19 case.

The Isle of Man Government is consulting head teachers to plan and manage the return of all children before the end of June.

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

'We are rapidly heading towards our new Manx normal and the safe return of all children to full-time education.

‘The department welcomes the Chief Minister’s announcement and will continue to work with head teachers to accelerate plans for the return of all children. I know many pupils and families are keen to return to full-time education and have had a stressful time whilst schools were closed.’

‘I want to thank our teaching staff for their hard work during this challenging time and I look forward to seeing them back delivering the first-class education our young people deserve.’

All schools were closed on 23 March, with the exception of 14 hubs, which were kept open for the most vulnerable children and those of key workers. This system provided a good level of education for those attending and a range of remote learning options were offered to those at home.

On Monday 15 June, nurseries and child minders will open, and teaching staff will go back into their school to prepare for the return of children, currently attending a hub. Two days later on 17 June hub children will return to their own school with the children of key workers.

This will be followed by the return of all children in years two, six, 10 and 12 on 22 June - with the department anticipating more than half of school age children will be back in school by the end of the week.

All schools have been deep cleaned and risk assessments undertaken as schools prepare for the next phase. Government staff have also been redeployed to provide more frequent cleaning and extra hand washing facilities have been installed.

Any pupil who is not able or does not feel able to return will be supported by their school through remote teaching and the department will be assisting schools to deliver an enhanced educational package to those who choose not to return before September.

Further announcements will be made next week regarding the return of all pupils to school and provisions for activities during the summer holidays.