NI school, which has had 19 cases of COVID-19, in plea for pupils not to attend house parties

An NI school, which has had up to 19 cases of COVID-19, has appealed to senior pupils not to attend planned house parties this weekend.

Principal of St Ronan’s College, in Lurgan, Fiona Kane, said she is ‘really concerned’ after hearing of planned parties and has appealed to parents and guardians to be wary of ‘risk-taking behaviour’.

Mrs Kane was speaking after a letter she sent to Year 13 and 14 pupils as well as their parents and guardians was made public today.

She wrote that she had been made aware of a number of planned parties, including indoor house parties and other social gatherings over this weekend, and involving a number of Sixth Form pupils.

Mrs Fiona Kane, Principal of St Ronan's College.

Mrs Kane told the Lurgan Mail: “We are really concerned. We are not into policing our young people but we have had a number of cases of COVID-19 at the school.”

She revealed that up to 19 pupils had tested positive in recent months most of them senior pupils.

Mrs Kane said she was concerned for the health and safety of the school community which comprises of around 200 staff and 1,660 pupils.

“While the young people might bounce back, a lot of older and more vulnerable people in the community may not,” said Mrs Kane.

St Ronan's College in Lurgan. Photo courtesy of Google.

It is understood there are a number of parties planned over the next few weeks with many in the senior years turning 18.

“We don’t want to stop our pupils from having fun. I am a parent myself and I understand. It is about trying to get the balance right. The restrictions can be challenging for these young people,” she said.

Mrs Kane wrote in the letter to the pupils and their carers: “We completely appreciate that our pupils have a right to a life outside of school and that the restrictions are difficult and challenging for them and everyone of us.

“However, their health and safety and that of our entire College community is of paramount importance to us, particularly whilst we are still working and living through this pandemic.

“Such gatherings as described above are in breach of current guidance and legislation. Participants in these activities are also subject to fines. However, the potential negative impact on the health and safety of members of our school community supersedes all of that.

“I am sincerely appealing to all parents and carers of Year 13 and Year 14 students, to support us in keeping everyone safe and well. We do not want to have any outbreak of the coronavirus in the College. The PHA has confirmed that the limited number of positive cases we have already managed in the College are due to community and not school spread. Please ensure that your son or daughter is following the current legislation and guidance in relation to their personal and free time. Please encourage them to continue to wash their hands frequently, wear face masks on corridors, in communal areas and at other appropriate times. Please dissuade them from any and all risk taking behaviours.

“Ensuring the safety of pupils and staff is my absolute priority and I will continue to monitor this situation carefully and keep you informed.

Your continued understanding and support in all of this are much appreciated at this time by everyone in St Ronan’s College.

“I am making this correspondence available to our Year 13 and Year 14 students via the College app so they can read and understand my position,” said Mrs Kane.

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