‘Selfish and inexcusable’: School’s fury over simcha for 100 guests

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‘Selfish and inexcusable’: School’s fury over simcha for 100 guests

Principal of Rosh Pinah wrote to all parents after it emerged a barmitzvah attended by 19 families was held at unnamed hospitality venue

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

Rosh Pinah Primary School
Rosh Pinah Primary School

The furious head teacher of Rosh Pinah Primary School has condemned a decision by the parents of pupils at the school to host a barmitzvah celebration for around 100 guests as “selfish, irresponsible and quite frankly inexcusable”.

Jill Howson wrote to all parents after it emerged that 19 families attended the simcha this month at an unnamed “hospitality venue” – despite the fact gatherings of up to six people or two households were permitted at the time under tier 3 regulations.

She fumed: “I cannot even begin to express my anger and disappointment over this”.

The event took place on the heels of a previous breach of regulations, a birthday party, about which Howson had also written to parents. She pointed out that “it has not gone unnoticed that the parents who hosted [the barmitzvah celebration] were one of the first to complain when our infant children were sent home for a few days, earlier in the term”.

The head teacher said that the school was doing its “utmost” to keep everyone safe, but that nevertheless she had had to send “a large number of children home” this week because of the risk factor surrounding infection. She herself is presently at home, in isolation, because of having been classed as a contact with a staff member who had tested positive for Covid. She was unable, she told parents, to celebrate Christmas with her family, and her own plans for the holidays would not go ahead.

Rosh Pinah has nearly 400 pupils and 70 members of staff. Ms Howson said that “it does not take much to be defined as a contact”, despite whatever precautions the school was taking.

Letter sent to parents

She described herself as “very disappointed” to be writing to parents on such an issue and said that “it really isn’t a lot to ask” that parents should “spend time thinking of others rather than themselves for the next few months”.

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Andrew Rotenberg, chairman of governors for the school, said: “The school has been focused on keeping the children safe and Jill Howson and her senior staff have done an extraordinary job. It is not the first time she has had to send a letter reminding parents of government regulations, and we fully support her decision to call out those have breached those regulations.”

He added that in addition to the governors welcoming the letter from Ms Howson, “parents have been overwhelmingly supportive of her move”.

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