Loreto College - Coleraine, Co. Derry, Northern Ireland
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23/03/2020 DEAR STUDENTS

Nobody could ever have predicted that we’d have to close our school indefinitely a few weeks before the Easter holidays.  We were looking forward to the Easter break; our senior students were busy preparing for their modules, GCSEs, AS levels and A levels; our Year 14s and some Year 12s were getting ready to say goodbye to Loreto and we were looking forward to celebrating with them.

Then Coronavirus happened.

Every morning, we gather together at Assembly or in our form classes and we say our own Loreto Prayer.  Some lines from that prayer seem very appropriate just now.

These days may not feel very full of promise and opportunity, but they are.  We have the opportunity to look out for our families, our friends, those who live near us.  We have the opportunity to behave responsibly so that we aren’t compromising anybody else’s safety or health.  We have the opportunity to spend a bit more time than usual with our families and we have the promise that someday this will all be over and we will be able to go back to living more like we’ve been used to doing.  We have the opportunity, too, to carry on with our learning and our teaching: online instead of in school; in Google classrooms rather than Loreto classrooms.  Your teachers have been very busy getting lots of resources and assignments ready for you, so no matter what year group or class you’re in, there will be something for you to do.  We pray that God will help us to use these opportunities well, and that the promise of better, brighter days stays with us.

Never before, perhaps, do we need to pray so much for God’s guidance for the decision makers of the world, as well as for everyone working in the Health Service.  We pray that they will be inspired to give all of us the correct guidance to navigate safely through this crisis.  And we need to follow this guidance.  Remember to wash your hands (or use hand sanitizer) frequently, and remember to practise social distancing.  It’s not just that staying at home might save lives:  it will save lives.  Keep in touch with the older members of your families, like your grandparents, but be careful about being too close:  you may need to use Facetime, Skype or even just a text or phonecall, delaying those much-wanted hugs just for a while.  When you take a break from your Google Classroom work, ask what you can do to help out at home.   Keep in touch with your friends too:  and when you’re doing that, remember to keep away from any words or deeds that might be hurtful to one another.  Support each other.  Make each other laugh.  This isn’t an easy situation for any of us; in a world where you can be anything, be kind.

There are many paths that we can take at a time like this.  We could just be scared, we could give up doing any study, we could think only of ourselves, but we could also be resilient, determined, focused and show consideration for those around us.  We pray that God will help us all to choose the path that is right, and that he will stay with us and be our companion on this very difficult road.

The world will open up before us once again:  we have to keep sight of this hope at a time when every news bulletin is more alarming than the last, and all kinds of scary rumours are circulating on social media.  When it is safe to do so, Loreto will open up once again. In the meantime, we will keep in touch with you all through our online presence and the Google Classrooms.  If you’re in Years 12, 13 and 14, we will follow the guidance we expect to get very soon about your GCSEs, AS and A levels, and we will let you know what’s happening.  When better days come, we will welcome back all our students and staff, we will sort out whatever has to be resolved, we will talk to you about everything that’s happened and we will start again. 

Until then: keep safe, keep well, keep praying and keep in touch.