STAFF and pupils made a welcome return to Hill Croft School on Monday morning (February 25) after health and safety experts gave the go-ahead to reopen.
The New Mossley school, which caters for boys and girls aged three-19 years with a range of special needs, was closed on February 1 after potentially dangerous Legionella bacteria was discovered during a routine water testing programme.
The school was shut as “a precautionary measure” after a strain of the bacterium, which can cause Legionnaires’ disease, was found in an unused shower block.
Following extensive work on the water system at the school, health and safety officials gave the North Eastern Education and Library Board the okay to reopen the school on Monday, much to the delight of staff and pupils.
“Everyone is absolutely delighted to be back. The staff and pupils are all glad to be back and it’s great that the pupils can get back into their routine. There are a lot of happy, smiling faces around the school today,” principal Roz McFeeters told the Times.
During the three-week closure, staff delivered work packs to pupils, held classes at Jordanstown School and Glengormley Youth Centre and organised outings for the children to the Movie House, Sportsbowl, Carrick Leisure Centre and The Donkey Sanctuary near Ballyrobert.
“I would just like to thank everyone who supported us during the closure and all those who helped organise the outings for the pupils,” Mrs McFeeters continued.
“It has been a very stressful time, particularly for parents, and we understand that as best we can. It’s been a difficult time for everyone involved, so we are absolutely delighted that everyone is back in school today.”
A spokesperson for the NEELB stressed that extensive work was carried out at the school during the period of closure to ensure the safety and wellbeing of staff and pupils.
“The school remained closed to enable an extensive series of site remedial actions in the water system of the school to be completed.
“A risk assessment was conducted and as part of the action plan a new water treatment dosing system has been introduced to the water storage and distribution system, in tandem with a reviewed maintenance regime,” the spokesperson explained.
“The board regrets the disruption that has taken place to the educational routine of the pupils who attend Hill Croft School and is delighted to be in a position to reopen the school. We very much appreciate the work of the principal and staff of the school during this difficult period and would wish to express our thanks to parents for their understanding and support,” she added.