Commenting on Department of Education advice on how to deal with children who have symptoms of Coronavirus when they return to school, Koulla Yiasouma, Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Koulla Yiasouma said, “It is never appropriate to isolate a child ‘behind a closed door’, never mind when they may be feeling unwell,I fully accept that schools must take reasonable precautions in order to protect all children and staff but these should be proportionate.

The Guidance as outlined on page 41 of the “Re-opening Schools Guidance – New School Day” states: “A child awaiting collection should be moved, if possible, to a room where they can be isolated behind a closed door. Appropriate adult supervision should be provided as required. Ideally, a window should be opened for ventilation. If it is not possible to isolate the child, move them to an area which is at least 2m away from other people. A risk assessment should be undertaken by the school to address this.”

“I was assured by Officials in June that this part of the guidance would clearly advise children who were displaying symptoms of Covid would be treated with dignity. As it stands the guidance does not do this.

“I have written to the Minister and made it clear that he must remind all schools of their responsibility to take the health, well-being and best interests of the child and young person into account. Children and young people must be separated from their class in an area where they can be safely supervised and cared for by an adult.

“The Department should explicitly state that no child should be kept in a room behind a closed door without an adult with them.”

Nadia Duncan

Author: Nadia Duncan

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