On a St Cecilia’s College Twitter account, Principal Martine Mulherne said “we are all in the same storm but not in the same boat” as some families will have followed guidance over Christmas and the New Year while others didn’t.
However, pupils from 30 different households will have to sit next to each other in a “confined space” regardless of their adherence to restrictions, she explained.
Covid cases have rocketed across the North of Ireland in recent weeks and the Derry City and Strabane District Council area has the highest seven-day rate at 2,947 per 100,000 of population.
Ms Mulherne made it clear that she was not casting judgement but stated that in the interests of student and staff welfare schools should remain shut for the rest of the week.
“This week children of these families will have no choice but to sit beside other children whose families may have chosen to celebrate in the more traditional way and not strictly followed current guidance. Remember I’m not here to judge – I’m no angel,” she said.
“All of the sacrifice of families with vulnerable members may well have been in vain.
“We’re being told Omicron is highly transmissible, much more so than the Delta variant.
“The symptoms of Omicron are ‘milder’ than the Delta variant. But ‘mild’ is a relative term – symptoms may be ‘mild’ to the healthy and yet much more serious to the vulnerable.”
Ms Mulherne added: “So this week in all of our schools we are planning a return of classes of up to 30 children from 30 different households in a confined space with ‘open windows’, ‘mask’ wearing and washing hands as the mitigations. Anyone like to make a prediction?
“If the current trend of Covid cases continue it is highly probable that an immediate return to school after festivities may result in an immediate loss of staff (illness or self isolation periods) with no possibility of replacing them due to the shortage of substitute teachers.
“Schools are due back on the 3rd/ 4th of this week.
“Giving us a 3/4 day ‘break’ from face to face teaching this week may not only help to keep our children, staff and their families safer but may also give us a fighting chance to keep our schools open in the weeks and months ahead.”