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Headteachers issue Covid-19 warning to parents over children’s parties

JCoSS, JFS and Yavneh say small number of coronavirus cases have been identified among students

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Jewish secondary school heads have warned parents against allowing children to attend parties after a reported spike in Covid-19 infections among Jewish teenagers. 

Patrick Moriarty, head of the cross-communal JCoSS in East Barnet, told parents that a small number of coronavirus cases had been identified among sixthformers at the school. 

A similar letter has also been sent to parents of Yavneh College in Borehamwood and JFS in Kenton.

JFS parents were told on Thursday that "we are aware of around 50 individuals, roughly two per cent of the school, are affected through either contact with an individual or having tested positive themselves".

Mr Moriarty told JCoSS parents, "All those we know to have been affected or potentially affected have been contacted by the school and have arranged testing. Students will only return to school once any symptoms have cleared and any required self-isolation periods have been observed.” 

He said had no evidence of irresponsible behaviour in any of these cases. 

But he added, “We have heard some reports of pre-term parties and of a spike in infections amongst teenagers across the Jewish community.   

“If true, the two are unlikely to be a coincidence. In our view it would be both anti-social and irresponsible for students to attend any gathering where social distancing was not observed, and I hope parents will support the community in taking the same line.” 

Spencer Lewis, headteacher of Yavneh, said, "We do have a number of students who will not be able to start school on time because they are in isolation because they have either tested positive for covid 19 or because they have had direct contact with someone who has. Thankfully, most symptoms are mild."

He has written to  parents "about the importance of ensuring that parties and gatherings do not take place and to reassure them that anyone who needs to, is currently isolating.  

"This is a difficult situation that changes daily and which we are working with Public Health to deal with."

Rachel Fink, headteacher of JFS, said a "small number" of pupils would return to school "once they have completed required periods of self-isolation".

For everyone else, the school was "open as planned," she said. Year 7 and 12 students were welcomed back today for the start of the new year.

The need for some students to self-isolate had arisen "for a variety of unavoidable reasons but also due to some students participating in social events during the holidays that do not adhere to the government guidelines," she said.

"Whilst it is understandable that young people have missed being with their friends, we urge the entire community to work collectively and responsibly to ensure that schools can remain open to facilitate the long-awaited return to regular education. We have communicated these expectations to our parent and student body."

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