Meningococcal scare causes cancellation of school excursion

A MENINGOCOCCAL scare at a Clarence Valley high school has caused the cancellation of a three-day school camp involving more than 100 students.

In a letter to The Daily Examiner, a parent of a student at McAuley Catholic College, at Clarenza, said two bus loads of year nine students were to attend Camp Kokoda, near Beaudesert, from October 26.

The parent said the buses were turned around at the camp gates after the NSW Department of Health notified the camp that two of the students from the school had been exposed to a person with meningococcal disease in the previous seven days.

The letter, signed Concerned Parent, said the school principal, Mark O'Farrell, made an "informed decision" on the morning the buses left to allow the two "at risk children" to board the bus with the other children and attend the camp.

This decision did not please the parent.

"Not only has he put our children at risk and the staff accompanying them, he has potentially exposed their families and the camp facilitators had they not been formally warned of the danger by the NSW Department of Health," the parent wrote.

The parent said the school should have kept the two at-risk students at home rather than risk the success of the camp, which parents had paid several hundred dollars each in fees.

In an email sent to parents following the cancellation, the school said the Department of Health said the person "a student" had been exposed to was a low-risk carrier of the disease and advised the school the student could attend the camp.

"This was the advice we proceeded with in good faith, based on the information NSW Department of Health presented to us," the email read.

The school did not reply to a request for comment.

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