Chief Minister Howard Quayle MHK has today announced that schools in the Isle of Man will close to most children from the end of the school day on Monday, 23 March 2020 until further notice.
Dhoon School and Ballasalla School which will close from tonight because of staffing pressures.
The decision has been taken in conjunction with school leaders as the Island strengthens measures to protect the Island and its residents against the coronavirus pandemic.
Three additional cases have been confirmed in the Isle of Man, taking the total to five.
Government advice is that all children should stay at home, where possible, and follow the guidance on social distancing if they go out to exercise.
All 5 high schools and 9 primary schools with special education needs support will remain open to provide care for vulnerable children and those who parents are classed as ‘key workers’ critical to the Island’s COVID-19 response.
University College Isle of Man will provide a limited service to assist students who are completing their courses.
Efforts are also being put in place to assist remote working for school children in order to support their educational needs while they are at home.
The Chief Minister said:
‘Now is the time to close the Island’s schools to help suppress the spread of COVID-19 and ensure our health services retain the capacity to protect vulnerable members of our community. The public health benefits of keeping schools open has shifted and the decision to close will strengthen our response to the pandemic. I recognise that many parents will have little choice but to take time off work to look after their children at home, but this a necessary step.’
‘I am grateful for the help and advice from the teaching leadership group. They, like me, have the best interests of the children at the forefront of their minds.’
Schools are putting together online resources and homework packs to support home educating. Parents and children can also take advantage of free e-learning materials provided by entities such as the BBC.
Education Minister Dr Alex Allinson MHK said:
‘At this stage we do not know exactly how long schools will remain closed. Updates will be provided as the situation evolves. This is an unsettling time for our parents and children and we will do everything we can to offer advice and practical support. We would encourage as much educational activity at home as is feasible and efforts to keep children physically active while complying with strict social-distancing rules.’
‘The Department of Education, Sport and Culture has been working with school leaders to establish how we will provide a safe environment for the children of key workers and vulnerable children. Schools will be in touch with those who qualify.’