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Pupils at north Belfast grammar expected to be sent home amid staff shortage due to Covid-19

Dominican College Fortwilliam

PUPILS at a north Belfast grammar school are expected to be sent home this week amid a shortage of staff due to Covid-19.

Parents of girls attending Dominican College Fortwilliam have been told the school "may have to implement its Covid contingency plan later this week".

Principal Lynda Catney said it comes as the school was "currently experiencing an unprecedented level of staff absence due to Covid".

In a letter to parents, she warned that it "may result in some year groups being asked to remain at home".

The most recent school cases numbers, however, reveal that positive Covid-19 cases in schools across the north are continuing to fall.

In the seven days to March 20, there were a total of 2,028 cases - down from 2,661 in the previous week.

The figures revealed there were 1,724 confirmed cases among pupils and 304 staff with coronavirus.

But the ongoing presence of the virus is continuing to impact schools with staff absences and a shortage of substitute teachers.

In her letter, Ms Catney said she was writing to parents to "advise you that we are currently experiencing an unprecedented level of staff absence due to Covid".

"This has been compounded by severe shortage of substitute teachers," she said.

"The situation is particularly acute today (Monday) and I am writing to advise you that the school may have to implement its Covid contingency plan later this week.

"This may result in some year groups being asked to remain at home."

Ms Catney told parents she should be in contact again to "confirm arrangements for the rest of the week".

"Throughout the pandemic, it has always been my priority to keep school open for all pupils and I am most disappointed to have to even consider this step," she added.

"I thank you for your support in these most challenging times."

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