Education Minister tells schools to prepare for remote learning after Christmas holidays
The Education Minister has told schools to prepare to move to remote learning after the Christmas holidays.
Jeremy Miles has given schools two days at the start of the new term in January to plan for return the return of pupils as well as the possibility of moving to remote learning, amid fears about the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
In a letter to he has called on headteachers to plan for some classes, year groups or the whole school to move online.
It says schools should plan for a “very high risk” scenario, and advises allowing for the return of staggered starts and more testing.
Jeremy Miles said: “Our collective priority continues to be to minimise the disruption to education, and ensure where possible learners continue to receive in person learning, as well as protecting staff, learners and communities.
“I know that the autumn term has been particularly challenging for school staff, learners and their families, and the level of disruption due to staff capacity has resulted in some schools having to make the difficult decision to move certain classes/year groups to remote learning for short periods.
“Similarly, for colleges, staff and learners, there has been continued disruption due to the pandemic, but the commitment to the blended learning model and the different age range of learners in further education has meant that colleges have been able to be flexible in their approach to offer remote learning when needed.”
‘In recognition of the challenges’
“In recognition of the challenges that schools and colleges have faced, and the current levels of uncertainty regarding the impact of Omicron, I have today written to all schools and colleges to provide as much clarity now as I can to enable them to plan and prepare for the return in January.
“This will allow time for schools to assess staffing capacity and put the necessary measures in place to support the return of all learners. Schools will be asked to make use of the planning days to ensure they have robust plans in place to move to remote learning if required – this could be for individual classes/year groups or possibly for the whole school.
“Schools will be asked also to use this opportunity to revisit contingency plans, ensuring exam years are prioritised for onsite provision should there be a need to restrict in person learning at any time and consider what arrangements might need to be in place for vulnerable learners and the children of critical workers during any periods of disruption.”