The Emergency Advisory Group has said the gov needs to establish a robust and well communicated plan for the reopening of schools come September.
Members of the EAG were advising the gov on the short and medium term response to Covid when they examined the issue of schooling and general protection of the island’s children.
In the advice, issued at the end of July, the members said: ‘The EAG advises that the Council of Ministers should ensure it has a robust, clear and well communicated plan for the return of children to school in September which includes the use of LFTs to give confidence to students, teachers and parents in respect of controlling the spread of Covid-19 in educational settings.’
The island’s schools have seen a significant increase in the number of cases of Covid since the turn of the year both amongst students and staff, something parents, teachers and children will be keen to avoid when schools reopen in September.
Why Under 12?
In it’s published advisory notes, the EAG notes that the island’s 14 day notification rate of infection per 100,000 is 2992 compared to the UK’s rate of 798. It said: ‘This means Covid circulation in the Isle of Man is almost four times greater than that in the UK. In the context of the Delta variant, there seems little point in attempting to protect Isle of Man residents from the importation of the virus therefore.’
The EAG has also asked for more clarification on the policy intention or science behind the decision to not require children aged under 12 to isolate after travelling to the island. Members of the EAG said they view this as ‘somewhat arbitrary and will cause some families to be in a position where one child is required to isolate and another is not’. And because of the context outlined above of the Covid circulation on the island being almost four times higher than the UK, ‘there is little point in restrictions at the border at this point and it adds a layer of bureaucracy to those wishing to travel to and from the island’.
The EAG has also said that border controls should be used where there is a threat to the island of an importation of a Variant of Concern (Voc) which is designated as high risk by Public Health England. Members added: ‘In order to address this threat, the EAG urges CoMIN to consider real time genomic sampling for VoCs. The EAG also advises CoMIN to consider and address the risks which still exist in relation to the importation of VoCs from people who are 2+2 vaccinated, but who may be carrying a VoC.’