Simchas leading to spread of covid, warns JCoSS head

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Simchas leading to spread of covid, warns JCoSS head

Patrick Moriarty revealed that four out of the eight schools in Barnet with the highest infection rate were Jewish

School children in a classroom.   Photo credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
School children in a classroom. Photo credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

The headteacher of JCoSS has cautioned those holding simchas to do so “responsibly” amid a steep rise in cases in schools and evidence that bar and mitzvhs are the source of a number of covid outbreaks.

Writing to parents, JCoSS’s Patrick Moriarty revealed half of the eight schools with the highest rate of infection in Barnet are Jewish, and urged “caution and adherence to all health and safety guidance when organising such events”.

He told parents last week that the school is distributing lateral flow tests as they enter school and an NHS vaccination team would be returning to the site on 1 November.

This comes as the number of daily coronavirus cases nationally surpassed 40,000 for the first time in months, as the government encouraged those eligible to get booster jab.

Cases have occurred across Jewish schools, with 28 students reportedly off in year seven Hasmonean girls last week.

The school confirmed there were cases in all school years, but added there are “far fewer cases this week. A lot of those who were off have returned and not many new ones are testing positive.

Patrick Moriarty

A spokesperson for Hasmonean girls said: “Cases at Hasmonean Girls are rising as they are in many other schools. The school is in Amber measures for the next two weeks which means we have introduced a range of measures including wearing face masks, increased ventilation and slightly staggered lunch breaks as well as promoting frequent testing at home.

“All classes continue to be taught and, where possible, teachers are streaming live lessons to those at home.”

Hasmonean primary, whose students are under the age at which they can get a vaccine, said it has six positive cases, with three at home being tested and one teacher ill with covid. The school said “numbers have been up and down slightly each week.”

Yavneh told Jewish News last week it does “not have rising cases, we have falling numbers.

We do still have some measures in place including the wearing of face masks in the corridors for all pupils and staff.”

It added there was “only had 29 pupils off across the entire school with Covid” last Thursday.

Earlier this week, Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl urged those eligible to get a booster jab, and those who were not yet vaccinated to get protected from Covid.

She said: “We have lost more than 900 of our community to the pandemic, and our synagogues are yet to return to the full life we knew before March 2020.

“We still have a long way to go to defeat this pandemic. But for the safety of yourself, your loved ones, and so that we can fully revive our communal life as soon as possible, I urge those who are eligible for a booster to take one, and those who are yet to take the two original jabs to do so as soon as possible. We all need to take responsibility for overcoming Coronavirus together.”

JFS and Sinai have been asked for comment.

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