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School attendance nears pre-COVID levels

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The number of children now back at school in the Isle of Man is close to pre-COVID levels.

On Tuesday, more than 92% of primary and 86% of secondary age pupils were back in classes, an even higher figure than the excellent take up on Monday - when schools were allowed to welcome back all children for the first time in almost three months.

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

‘It is very encouraging to see the numbers returning to face-to face-teaching, meeting classmates, and getting back into a more normal routine. I would encourage all pupils to come back to school. Your teachers have missed you.’

The obligation for parents to send their children to school has been lifted for the rest of this term and parents who keep their children at home are asked to contact their head teacher for advice and support.

Adrienne Burnett, Headteacher at Ballakermeen High School, said:

‘As a result of our Government’s assured handling of the COVID-19 crisis, unlike other jurisdictions, our children are able to benefit from specialist teaching.

‘Remote learning can never be substitute for that. Children attend school to learn, but it is also where they meet their friends and socialise and the sooner our children return to normality, the better for their wellbeing.’

The Isle of Man Government will fully engage with pupils and staff who need or choose to remain at home and will continue to look at remote learning as an option for some.

Dr Allinson, added:

‘I’d like to thank all pupils and parents for their patience. I would also like to thank all the teachers who have shown incredible flexibility and dedication over the last three months to support their students in the hub schools and at home. The overwhelming feedback is that teaches and pupils are excited to be back.’

‘I am especially grateful for the catering staff, cleaners, caretakers and those working in the special units who have worked hard to get our schools ready and ensured that they will be safe for our young people and other staff members.’

Since reopening all schools have an enhanced cleaning regime and catering staff have been redeployed to enable this. Packed lunches can be purchased from the canteen and will be provided to those eligible for free school meals or can be brought from home. Schools can make their own decisions regarding uniforms for the remainder of the term.

With the vast majority of children now back in their school – people are reminded not to use school playing fields for recreation during school hours.