Northern Ireland news

Two schools close following positive Covid-19 tests

Holy Cross College in Strabane closed at short notice yesterday following a third positive Covid-19 test.
Seamus McKinney

A deep clean is being undertaken at two Northern Ireland schools which have been forced to close following positive tests for Covid-19.

Holy Cross College in Strabane told pupils to stay away following a third confirmed positive test yesterday. The decision was taken after two other positive tests last weekend.

Principal Clare Bradley said the decision to close was only taken as the school was about to open at 8.15am. Mrs Bradley said the school needed time to contact the Public Healthy Agency following the latest positive test.

“I felt that for the safety of the staff and pupils that we could not operate normally this morning (Wednesday),” she said.

Holy Cross was followed by Malone College in Belfast which closed for a deep clean as a precautionary measure after a member of the teaching staff tested positive. Principal Katrina Moore announced yesterday that the college will re-open to pupils tomorrow.

Ms Moore said: “The school closure was a precautionary measure to allow me to continue protecting the entire school community at all times and I make no apologies for doing this. This is my main priority each and every day and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future.”

While numerous schools have sent home classes and year groups since the return to school earlier this month, whole schools closing in unusual.

Fleming Fulton, a special school in south Belfast with 100 pupils, closed for a day in early September after two members of staff tested positive for covid, Parkhall Integrated College in Antrim closed for a day on Monday.

West Tyrone MP, Órflaith Begley said the Holy Cross decision was taken as a precautionary measure for the safety of the pupils, staff and wider community.

“I know it wasn’t an easy decision for the school to take and the safety of pupils and staff is paramount,” she said.

The Strabane move followed a number of spikes in positive cases in the County Tyrone town as well as in neighbouring Lifford and east Donegal. The rise in Donegal cases follows a 76 percent increase in testing in the county in the last week.

A number of businesses in Tyrone and Donegal have closed or undertaken a deep clean following positive tests among staff members while Donegal GAA announced the postponement of this weekend’s senior county final between Kilcar and Glenties.

Strabane independent councillor, Paul Gallagher said it was vital that government step into protect small businesses in the town in light of the increase in positive tests in the area.

“People are doing their best to be responsible but this virus is going to be with us for a while. There’s a fine balance between dealing with virus and protecting small businesses. If small businesses are forced to close here, Strabane will become a ghost town that’s while government must do something to protect them,” Mr Gallagher said.

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Northern Ireland news