Schools and nurseries in the Isle of Man are to close from Thursday except for vulnerable children and those of key workers as the Island prepares to enter a second lockdown.
The decision was announced by the Chief Minster on Tuesday after seven new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed on Island.
The Isle of Man Government will re-establish a hub school system for children of essential workers and vulnerable children and reinstate a free school meal voucher scheme.
Following the first lockdown in 2020, the Government carried out a review of remote learning to establish clear expectations should further restrictions be required.
Dr Alex Allinson MHK, Minister for Education, Sport and Culture, said:
‘I know this is an unsettling time for children, parents and teachers and we will do everything we can to offer advice and practical support.
‘The review established a consistent set of standards that will help to build resilience and ensure the volume and quality of remote lessons is consistent. Heads will be organising remote learning for pupils and again, teachers will play an essential role, not just educating children, but helping maintain their wellbeing.’
Teachers will be asked to facilitate online lessons and maintain contact with pupils in line with the strategic plan at their school. Extra support will also be provided to those without suitable devices and internet access and those in examination year groups.
It is beneficial if pupils can keep up with the curriculum taught in their schools and the remote learning resources will aim to achieve this.
Following an announcement by the English Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson that GCSE and A-level exams would be cancelled for this summer the Government has been in regular contact with head teachers regarding the evolving situation and has been asking the Cambridge International Assessment board who mark IGCSEs and I A Levels whether they too will be moving to teacher assessed grades.
The Minister, continued:
‘I apologise that students and their families are again facing a degree of uncertainty around exams this summer. We will be working with schools and teachers to ensure that all our students get the grades they deserve and can progress with their future plans.’
Temporary school closures are among a raft of measures being implemented by the Isle of Man Government to eliminate the virus, protect life and safeguard the vaccination programme.
All high schools and nine primary schools with special education needs support, will be kept open to provide care for vulnerable children and those whose parents are classed as critical to the Island’s COVID-19 response.
Any pupils who are currently home educated and may be impacted by the recent changes are invited to contact DESC for advice and support.
University College Isle of Man will also stop all face-to-face classes from Thursday, but all exams scheduled for this week will go ahead as planned.
University students who were planning on returning to colleges in the UK are advised to speak to their faculties. Many courses have now been made available online and colleges are dissuading students from returning in January.
Some subjects which include practical assessments such as medicine and health related courses, nursing and education will be re-starting as planned.
Should any students require further advice on perhaps changing their higher education course, practical support or pastoral care they are invited to contact UCM which has made some of their staff available to support Isle of Man students studying in the UK.