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Students asked to isolate as a result of COVID-19

We have had a high volume of enquiries about the child rights implications of schools asking students to self-isolate en bloc for reasons perceived as 'automatic' or 'blanket'.

We therefore thought it would be helpful to reiterate here what we have said in answer to these queries.

The first thing is that we recognise there's a delicate balance between protecting a child's right to an education and ensuring that their rights to be safe and well are also met. 

We keep a close eye on this, and are in very regular contact with government to ensure that their decisions on these issues have taken into account the impact on children's rights.

This is the latest information we have received from government on this matter: 

  • There is a standard operating procedure that Contact Tracing Team (CT), the school and the Department follows upon confirmation of a positive case – and this is being followed
  • Contact Tracing is not an exact science because each positive case has unique characteristics – and, as CT finds out about the direct and indirect contacts, the response can evolve to reflect the emerging understanding of those contacts (in and out of school)
  • CT approach is to maximise the protection of those affected – so no one carelessly sends home large groups of students; rather CT makes decisions based on the best information it is given and with the wider well-being of the schools and Island population in mind.
  • In some cases, CT has been advised directly by the headteacher that there is no separation between the year groups and therefore they couldn't reduce the number of direct contacts from less than the entire year groups. This would mean that the students aren't being treated differently to adults, as the requirement to self-isolate as a direct contact is not related to age. They must either isolate for 14 days or receive tests for the equivalent of days 0, 5 and 8 (about to change to 0, 5 and 10) and able to leave isolation after their last negative swab. If they become positive for Covid-19 during that time then CT would advise accordingly.
  • If CT are able to identify individuals that are not a direct contact then they are told to leave self-isolation.

But if none of this answers your query, please do get in touch directly.