Last Thursday we made the difficult but decisive decision to close all schools and childcare facilities on the island.
Since then The Department for Education, Sport and Culture has been working with other parts of government and the private sector to establish provision for some of the children of our critical front line staff who we rely on.
Over the weekend we have seen the number of cases in our community increase significantly.
We are still not at the peak of this outbreak yet.
It was my intention to open a hub provision tomorrow.
The infection control team today visited the school selected to carry out a detailed risk assessment. The Public Health Department are also involved in drawing up clear protocols including testing provision which will be shared with teachers and their representatives.
This morning the Council of Ministers discussed this plan and the complexities it involves. It is essential that we can open the hub safely and have resilient systems in place to ensure its continued operation.
As we approach the infection peak major concerns were expressed about gathering children from multiple households together in the same place when we understand that household transmission is the main cause of the spread of COVID-19 through our community.
For that reason we have decided not to open the hub tomorrow as previously planned and work together to ensure we have a robust system in place in the near future.
I understand how difficult the current situation is for many and are working around the clock to establish care provision for those children who due to their parent’s critical work commitments cannot be at home.
We will make a further update later this week but in the meantime we have to ask all parents to keep their children at home.
Whilst this is going on schools will be providing regular contact with vulnerable children.
If families have any difficulties they should contact their school in the first instance who can help to advise and resolve any difficulties or obtain extra help from one of our educational psychologists.
All our teachers remain dedicated to teaching, and the remote learning services they provide will continue even though our schools remain closed.