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School closures ‘very necessary’ say principals

THE closure of schools has been welcomed by local secondary school principals who believe it is “essential” to get the spread of the virus under control.

Schools will be closed again from Monday for a two-week period as the Executive announced further restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Principal of Dean Maguirc College in Carrickmore, James Warnock, believes the closure is “very necessary if we are to get this alarming situation under control”.

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Mr Warnock said, “We as a school community have been fortunate that we only encountered our first confirmed case last Sunday on October 10, but further cases in the interim have clearly shown how quickly the virus is spreading.

“While we all continue to play our part with regard to adhering to the guidelines and being responsible, it is most concerning to see the ‘R’ rate increasing.

“Thus I think that further restrictions have to be put into place and the closing of schools for an extra week at ‘mid–term’ is very necessary if we are to get this alarming situation under control.

“Saying that, my hope is that this action for the next two weeks will enable us to return to the classroom setting on November 2 where anxiety levels will be somewhat reduced, people will feel safer and be in a position to continue with face-to-face teaching and learning which is best for all,” said Mr Warnock.

Principal at Omagh High School Christos Gaitatzis also believes the closure is essential to ensure the safety of staff and students.

“I think it is necessary,” said Mr Gaitatzis.

“Over the past few weeks, there has been an exceptional amount of cases within the community.

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“We have been lucky that the school cases have been very, very low.

“In the school, we do not have cases as such, but some of the pupils have been in direct contact with positive cases and could not attend school.

“We have had a good plan in place to protect our staff and pupils and I think for other schools in the area, this closure is essential.

“A lot of exam classes will be impacted again.

“We cannot impose online learning during the two weeks so it is really at the discretion of the individual
pupils.

“I will get staff to keep in touch with students and encourage them to continue to do the work that they need to do,” said Mr Gaitatzis.

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