Coronavirus: Portadown school campus closes after Covid cases

Coronavirus: Portadown school campus closes after Covid cases

Craigavon Senior High School’s (CSHS) Portadown campus is to close temporarily after a cluster of Covid-19 cases at the school.

From Monday pupils with be taught remotely “for a temporary period”.

Pupils and staff at the school were voluntarily tested for Covid-19 over the weekend by the Public Health Agency (PHA).

CSHS has around 600 pupils, all of whom are in year 11 or year 12.

That is because it operates under the Dickson plan, in which children transfer at age 14 from junior high schools in the Craigavon area.

Around a quarter of Craigavon Senior High’s pupils are taught at the school’s Lurgan campus, which will remain open.

But the majority of pupils will be taught remotely following the temporary closure of the Portadown campus.

The Principal of CSHS, Ms Ruth Harkness, told BBC News NI that the decision followed a recent cluster of confirmed COVID-19 cases “within the school community “.

“Following testing, a number of positive cases have been identified and these individuals are required to self-isolate for 10 days,” she said.

“All close contacts of positive cases will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.”

She added: “Due to the complexity of this situation and following PHA advice, the school, in conjunction with the Education Authority has decided to make a temporary move to remote learning.”

“This will allow teaching of pupils to continue in a safe environment.”

Ms Harkness did not specify exactly how many positive cases had been identified among pupils and staff.

However she said she was mindful of the impact the decision to teach pupils remotely would have.

“It is not a decision we make lightly but it is important that we ascertain the current situation around the cluster of cases to begin with, with the support of the PHA we can then decide on the best way forward.”

“We will keep pupils and parents updated as soon as we have any further information to share.”

She said staff would do everything they could to support pupils with remote learning.

The most recent statistics from the PHA show there had been 2,420 positive Covid cases in schools since the beginning of term in August until 8 November.

However, many other pupils or staff have had to self-isolate after being in close contact with a positive case.

Some pupils have already had to self-isolate for a 14-day period more than once.

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