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The Department of Education has today published its guidance on the opening of schools in September 2020. The guidance document is a live document which will be dynamic in nature. Updates and amendments will be made as and when required according to the latest Public Health advice pertinent to our community.

The Department of Education and Public Health Gibraltar have collaborated in the development of a “return to school” pathway that is cognisant of and implements best practice, understanding that COVID-19 intelligence will certainly change with the passage of time.

This guidance document provides a bespoke framework for school leaders to put in place proportionate protective measures for children and staff but also enables learners to receive an education that offers a broad and balanced curriculum, allowing them to thrive and progress. It also recognises that the context of each school will determine how the combination of these measures are used to best effect to help minimise the risk of transmission in each educational setting.

The Department of Education continues to promote hand washing as the number one preventative measure for reducing the spread of Covid-19.

The Department of Education’s comprehensive document has been shared with school leaders and with the NASUWT, GGCA and UNITE. The Department of Education invited feedback from these stakeholders and all the points raised so far have been considered carefully and responded to. The guidelines have been used by the senior leaders of HMGoG schools to guide and prepare for the safe opening of schools on the 1st September 2020.

The guidance outlines key principles that have informed the Department of Education’s planning and includes information on the key mitigating measures that will be put in place; guidelines for staff, children, parents and visitors; information on the arrangements for returning to school; reference to enhanced cleaning measures that will be in effect; as well as information on the procedures schools, parents and staff should follow if individuals are unwell or if a positive case of COVID-19 is identified within a school setting. Additionally, the document contains information on the support that will be available to pupils, teachers and staff as they return to school and throughout the academic year.

The priority for the Department of Education is to ensure that its schools are as safe and happy an environment as possible for all the children, young people and members of staff in our schools. All pupils enrolled in schools are legally required to attend unless they have the appropriate exemption paperwork as outlined in our guidelines. We will continue to ensure the guidance provided reflects the latest Public Health advice and we will review the situation in schools on a regular basis, together with school staff and the recognised Trade Unions. The Department of Education implores all learners and parents to read the advice provided and to follow the guidelines and procedures in place. In this way, we can work together as a community in a determined effort to prioritise our children’s education whilst ensuring individuals’ health and safety is not compromised. We will review measures as necessary to ensure that the return to school, for all pupils and staff, is as safe, happy and smooth as possible.

The document is available for the general public to read at www.education.gov.gi

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