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Schools face further disruption as Omicron coronavirus variant continues spread

The Premier, David Burt, has warned of further disruption to schools because of Covid

More school classes may need to be taught remotely as the Omicron variant of the coronavirus continued to sweep across the island, the Premier said yesterday.

David Burt was speaking after schools failed to reopen last Wednesday as planned — and the two senior schools, CedarBridge Academy and the Berkeley Institute, will be on remote learning this week.

Some schools are only part open for specific classes.

But Mr Burt said he was “pleased” that preschools had all restarted and all but one primary school and one middle school had reopened.

He said that despite the likelihood of record numbers of infections in the next few weeks and disruption to services, the country would move “beyond the pandemic”.

Mr Burt said: “We will have tough weeks ahead and we will be challenged. Like other countries, we will likely report record infections in the coming weeks.

“Public services will be affected and some classes may have to switch to remote temporarily.”

He added: “However, I am determined to lead a country that is not subject to the whims of the pandemic, but one that moves beyond the pandemic and we as a country must learn to live with this virus.”

Mr Burt highlighted that he was a parent, had seen the effect of remote learning on pupils and that the Government was “of the firm belief” that the best place for schoolchildren was in their classroom.

He said: “I understand that there are those who take a different view, but it is our job to make the tough calls.”

Mr Burt added: “I’m grateful for our teachers who are heroes in our midst and I want to thank them for persevering through the challenges.”

The Premier defended having been on vacation at the same time as several Cabinet ministers over the festive period, which saw a string of crises caused by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Problems included the Molecular Diagnostics and Research Laboratory being overwhelmed with a flood of tests because of the return of the schools.

Carika Weldon, the MDL’s chief scientist, resigned after she warned of the risk that the lab would not be able to cope and likelihood that schools would be unable to return as scheduled.

Mr Burt said: “Ministers are humans and must have time to recharge and time with their families, otherwise they will not be able to perform to the best of their abilities.

“Having witnessed the sacrifice of ministers during the pandemic, I encouraged them to take leave as their health and wellbeing are important to me.”

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Published January 12, 2022 at 7:36 am (Updated January 12, 2022 at 7:36 am)

Schools face further disruption as Omicron coronavirus variant continues spread

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