Guernsey schools are set to close in a bid to help limit the spread of coronavirus in the island.
The Director of Public Health has decided that schools, colleges and pre-schools will be closed from Monday 23 March, continuing through to the Easter holidays.
The results of tests, which get sent off-island, are taking longer to come back as the demand in the UK continues to grow.
It is the delays to these tests results that has prompted Guernsey to close schools to limit the spread of the disease.
Dr Nikki Brink says she hopes testing facilities will be available in Guernsey soon, which will help reveal a more accurate picture of cases on the island.
This is effectively a period of pause for education in the Bailiwick while we put necessary measures in place. The UK's circumstances have changed and that could lead to a level of uncertainty not previously present for us, for example about the speed in which results will be returned. We are taking necessary steps to prevent that uncertainty, if it materialises, making it more difficult for us to identify any community seeding if it occurs. Fortunately we believe the ability to test locally is nearly here. This will not only mean we can continue assessing the rate of spread of coronavirus in our community, it will give us the ability to carry out more tests, more quickly, improving the data we use to make decisions. I would again urge all islanders to focus on maintaining social distancing wherever possible, as this is an essential part of limiting the spread.
Once on-island testing is introduced, the government says it thinks that it could enable the full re-opening of schools after the Easter break.
While it frustrating to find ourselves in this situation, we cannot simply rely on others and must introduce on-island testing as quickly as possible. I'm very hopeful that the decision to begin the Easter break early is not the beginning of a longer term closure of schools, but we also have to be realistic that it's a real possibility. As is occurring on an almost daily basis, we have found the circumstances around us have changed but, again, we've considered the options quickly and carefully and made what we are sure is the right decision at this stage for our community.
The government says parents who are essential workers will be provided with childcare so they can continue going to work.