New Education, Sport and Culture Minister Julie Edge has reiterated the message of her predecessor that face coverings should be strongly advised in the island’s schools.

Ms Edge was appointed as DESC Minister on the same day that Ballakermeen High School told parents and guardians that Year 9 and 10 students would be asked to work from home for some days this week.

The Onchan MHK, who was one of the backbenchers in the last administration calling on better mitigation in schools, told Gef that the situation is one that ‘needs to be looked at’.

She added: ‘It’s clearly a decision that’s been taken in conjunction with the head teacher. I’m sure they won’t have done that lightly and they’ll be looking after the best interests of all their students and staff.’

When asked whether she would follow former minister Dr Allinson’s message of strongly advising face coverings in schools, Ms Edge said: ‘I think from mitigation for the schools we’ve seen throughout Covid that the schools are a place that it can be spread and certainly I would follow that some route of [face coverings] being strongly advised

‘If Public Health or Council of Ministers in the future change that, I think it is already happening in the UK, that we do need to consider it then obviously we need to be aware of people’s health concerns and to make sure that if it is mandatory it is acceptable for all.’

New School

Ms Edge has also taken over the DESC at a time when the south of the island is waiting for the building of a new high school. The new minister said that she thinks the project will be advanced but added ‘what the future of it will be is unknown to me at the moment as I’ve not been involved in that scheme at all’.

Not Just Education

As well as the island’s schools, Ms Edge has responsibility for sports and culture, she told Gef that the department has to work towards preparing for the Island Games in 2029 whilst also boosting participation across all sports and arts.

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