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Co Armagh school locked down as ambulance called twice in two days with children high on ‘spice’

Craigavon Senior High School Portadown Campus

A County Armagh school was locked down and paramedics called for the second consecutive day after a pupil – believed to have been high on ‘spice’ – required urgent medical attention.

The Portadown campus of Craigavon Senior High School initiated a ‘stay put procedure’ earlier today (Thursday) after a second pupil in as many days reacted badly after vaping the synthetic drug.

On Wednesday a student was rushed to hospital having suffered adverse effects.

Today, the school ceased all movement around the school so ambulance crews could deal with the latest worrying incident – much to the alarm of fellow students.

One concerned parent, speaking to Armagh I, said there has been an “outbreak of drugs in the school”.

“The situation at the school is getting worse. Children were put into lockdown today for almost an hour, locked in classrooms whilst the ambulance dealt with a pupil who had taken spice.

“Something has got to be done; management need to step up – it’s our children’s lives they are turning a blind eye to.”

The parent added: “My child in the school is made sit beside pupils under the influence of drugs; they have been asked to carry drugs for others so they don’t get caught.

“Teachers are unable to teach because they are too busy dealing with kids on drugs. My child asked a teacher why searches weren’t being done and the teacher couldn’t answer the question. Teachers are worried and some seem to be at breaking point as well.”

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service confirmed their attendance at the school shortly before 11am.

And police confirmed they are investigating after “a male pupil required medical attention on Wednesday due to having had an adverse reaction after inhaling a substance from a vape type device”.

Sergeant Brian Hull told Armagh I : “The boy was taken by ambulance to hospital for treatment but he has since been released. Further information has been received that another male pupil, from the same school, also received medical treatment today (Thursday) in similar circumstances.

“Our enquiries into both incidents are ongoing. I would like to remind people that persons under 18 years of age should not be using vape devices as their sale is prohibited to anyone under 18, and I would also urge anyone using vape devices to only use liquids obtained from reputable sellers and not to purchase liquids which could be harmful to their health.

“Neighbourhood Policing Team officers have been visiting schools to warn of the dangers involved in vaping substances that do not come from reputable retailers and we will continue with our efforts to highlight these dangers.”

Meanwhile, in a letter addressed to parents, seen by Armagh I , school principal Ms Harkness, said: “Reports have suggested that those affected thought they were purchasing THC or cannabis oil, however, they were unknowingly supplied with and had taken the synthetic drug ‘spice’, the effects of which required hospital treatment.”

The letter said Craigavon Senior High “have dealt with a number of recent incidents involving student vaping devices”.

“We take this issue very seriously due to the negative health effects vaping can have,” it added.

“Vaping is prohibited at Craigavon Senior High and it is also against the school rules to carry any such device, be under the influence of an illegal substance or supply other students with devices or substance.

“On enrolment all students and parents/guardians sign off to acknowledge their understanding of the rules of Craigavon Senior High School.

“Students found in possession of an e-cigarette or any other banned items will have this confiscated and this may warrant a referral to the PSNI and/or Social Services.

“All incidents involving banned items or substance misuse in school will be deemed as a very serious breach of the school Code of Conduct and could lead to expulsion.

“I trust you share our concerns about this harmful issue. Our goal is to partner with the parents to help support our students in making positive decisions for themselves and their future. We encourage you to have a conversation with your child about this topic.

“As we learn more, we will certainly share that information.”

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