A top private school in North Wales is to stay open over the half-term and the Easter holidays to protect its pupils from the coronavirus.
Staff at Myddelton College, in Denbigh, have cancelled their own holiday plans to ensure that the students from China, where the death toll from the virus has passed 1,000, can stay.
They include Headmaster Andrew Allman who had been due to go away with his family to New York at Easter to celebrate his birthday.
He said the school had taken the step to ensure the health of all its pupils and to reassure parents as well as to safeguard the interests of Year 11 and Year 13 students who are due to take GCSE and A-level equivalent exams this summer.
He added: “The welfare of our students is paramount and all 40 of those from China are staying on with us at the school for half-term and the Easter holidays from March 27 to April 20.
“I and a number of staff have cancelled holidays so that we can be here for them and be available to reach out and support them at this difficult time, which naturally includes those who have important exams coming up in the summer.
“We consider a safe option is for all of our students to stay here with their friends and be able to access resources of the school available to them, including the opportunity to speak to trained pastoral professionals. This also takes into consideration support that the students are able to receive for their emotional needs.
“In addition to our academic provision we have scheduled activities for them including a number of trips to places such as Lake District, Snowdonia, Portmeirion and Anglesey.
“The reaction of the parents has been twofold because naturally parents of British-based children were concerned about students returning from China after the holidays.
“They have been reassured and so have the parents of children from China who will now remain here and in the case of those taking exams not face disruption to their future plans.
“For them that includes gaining entry to universities like Edinburgh, Durham, Queen Mary’s University in London, Nottingham and Warwick.”
Chinese students at the school are also relieved and Martin Wong, 17, from Macau, said: “I really appreciate the school taking this decision because it means we can stay here with our friends and we have the staff here to support us because we wouldn’t be able to do that if we had to stay with our guardians.
“We have been worried about the situation in China but now my parents minds are at ease knowing I’m safe and being supported by the school and not at risk of contracting the virus.”
Albert Gao, 18, said: “Normally we would go home to China for the holidays but the school has arranged a full list of activities and tutorials and our parents are very relieved.
“The speed at which the virus has been escalating for us to be able to remain at the school and remove the risks associated with travelling to and from our home country provides us with great comfort.”
Anna Zhang, 18, said: “We know our parents have been worried about the situation in China and how it would affect us if we had to go back and we are extremely thankful that we are able to stay on here with our friends.”
Mr Allman said: “We are the one of the fastest-growing independent schools in the UK and I believe one of the reasons for that is down to the outstanding quality of our pastoral care which was highlighted in a recent Estyn report.
“It is vitally important for us to offer this kind of support for both our students and their parents at what must be a very worrying time for them and for my part the dedication, loyalty and support of all our staff here in Denbigh has been unstinting.”
Myddelton College, which occupies the site of the former Howell’s School in Denbigh, was the UK’s newest independent school when it opened in the autumn of 2016.
The Estyn Report issued in 2019 praised the way the school celebrates its diversity, said that pupils’ behaviour was “exemplary” and was also impressed by the high level of pastoral support and guidance provided by the “committed staff”.