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2,000 children of 'critical' workers are being offered schooling provision

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AROUND 2,000 children of workers considered 'critical' to the Island's response to coronavirus are being offered schooling provision by the government.

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Children's Minister Sam Mézec has outlined a 'first wave' of workers who can take up the offer of support if they have no other option.

Those initially eligible are those who work in healthcare, emergency services, those in public protection roles, social workers and residential child care workers.

Senator Mézec said: 'Our priority is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children and young people during this time, to enable our Island’s critical personnel to be available for work.

'We will be keeping these arrangements under regular review in response to changing circumstances and in the light of ongoing public health advice.'

The measures, which include schools, childminders and state nurseries, are for children up to and including Year 8 – the academic year in which pupils turn 13. Parents of older children should be able to make alternative arrangements for them, the minister said, although exceptional cases would be considered.

Education director general Mark Rogers said that where one partner in a household was a critical worker, it was expected their spouse would be able to deal with childcare, but that children could be accommodated where this was impossible.

Mr Rogers said that he expected to make offers to the parents of around 2,000 children, but that the number who would accept would be significantly lower than this. He said that there was currently sufficient teaching capacity, and that the numbers would play a part in a similar offer to other workers in a second wave of the initiative.

Following the first phase, the government also plans to focus on employees working across supply chains and food retailers, in home care and personal support for the vulnerable, and those maintaining essential Island infrastructure and safety, as well as air and ferry links.

Senator Mézec said that the government were also looking at arrangements for private nurseries and hoped to finalise these soon, as well as bespoke arrangements for vulnerable children.

The minister added that parallel work was being planed to explore options for care before and after normal school hours, as well as at weekends and during the Easter holiday period that had been due to commence on 3 April.

Richard Heath

By Richard Heath
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