FACING UP TO PROBLEM: Blue Hills College Year 10 student Ben Mooney (far left) with schoolmates (from left) Sam Adams, Sarah Watts, Ashleigh Robinson, Tracy Hamilton and Caitlin Strong.
FACING UP TO PROBLEM: Blue Hills College Year 10 student Ben Mooney (far left) with schoolmates (from left) Sam Adams, Sarah Watts, Ashleigh Robinson, Tracy Hamilton and Caitlin Strong. Jacklyn Wagner

Masking over serious flu threat

MOST kids would do anything to get out of school - not Blue Hills College student Ben Mooney.

After eight weeks of being forced to remain in home isolation due to a chronic lung condition, 15-year-old Ben just wanted to get back among his schoolmates.

That's when principal David Hobson had an idea - why not ask all his Goonellabah high school students to wear flu masks - dramatically reducing the risk of Ben contracting the flu.

The 70-odd students and 30 staff readily agreed.

“It's good seeing my friends again,” Ben said during his first week back. “It's better than being at home.”

Schoolmate Sam Adams, who only arrived at the school this year, said Ben was one of the first people he met and was happy that his friend was back.

Due to Ben's medical condition, which could see him rushed to a children's hospital in Brisbane if he even starts to exhibit flu-like symptoms, his younger sister Rebecca also had to remain in isolation for fear she might unwittingly bring a bug home.

“As parents we are incredibly grateful to the school, its principles and the other students,” mother Cathy Mooney said.

She said Ben and Rebecca were becoming 'stir crazy' isolated at home. Not only were they not allowed to attend school, they cannot go to the shops, travel on public transport or hang out at friend's places.

“If Ben contracts the flu it will have quite serious consequences,” Mrs Mooney said.

“So we were overwhelmed when (principal) David Hobson made the offer to have all students wear masks.”

Mr Hobson said the offer to wear masks was part of the school's Chaplain Challenge, which encourages students to do good deeds without thinking of their own personal needs.

“Basically the challenge, which was an ice-breaker at the beginning of the year, was to do a random act of kindness for somebody,” he said. “We wanted to teach them it's better to give than receive. When Ben's absence from school came about, the kids were happy to do it.

“For the first couple of days it was a novelty, but now the message is starting to sink in.”



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