Education news

School with mandatory face mask policy sends pupils home after positive Covid-19 case

Belfast Royal Academy in north Belfast. Picture by Mal McCann

THE first school to make face coverings mandatory has sent an entire year group home following a positive Covid-19 case.

The precautionary move affects about 200 pupils at Belfast Royal Academy (BRA).

In a letter to parents on Thursday, principal Hilary Woods said ensuring the safe return of pupils and staff was her "absolute priority".

In August, BRA said its pupils would not be allowed to enter classrooms unless they were wearing a face covering.

Masks are not required during exercise in the playground or "when eating at break time and lunchtime".

This goes further than than the requirement for all post-primary pupils to wear coverings in corridors and communal spaces.

At the time, Ms Woods said BRA was a large school, with more than 1,400 pupils and 200 staff, and due the nature of the site it was "impossible to maintain social distancing".

The aim of face coverings was to "safeguard all members of the community and particularly our vulnerable pupils and members of staff".

In her letter yesterday, Ms Woods said a member of the school community had tested positive for Covid-19.

"We are awaiting a call from the Public Health Agency and in the meantime have taken the precaution of sending Form 4 home," she said.

"The PHA require us to conduct our own tracing procedure and we will then be guided about what pupils, if any, require to self-isolate.

"Ensuring the safe return of pupils and staff to school is my absolute priority and I will continue to monitor this situation carefully."

Meanwhile, Holy Trinity College in Cookstown partially closed yesterday after a member of the school community tested positive for coronavirus.

In an email to parents, principal Isabel Russell said advice was sought from the PHA and the affected area had been closed for a deep-clean.

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