Schools across UK close as pupils return from Italy with flu-like symptoms
At least a dozen UK schools have put students and staff into self-isolation after returning from trips to coronavirus-hit northern Italy.
Pupils from County Antrim in Northern Ireland, Pembrokeshire in Wales, Guernsey in the Channel Islands and Cheshire, Yorkshire, Berkshire, Teesside and Cornwall in England were sent home on Tuesday to quarantine themselves for two weeks, despite not showing any signs of infection.
Other schools have shut their doors after pupils displayed symptoms of the novel disease.
Cransley School in Northwich, Cheshire, and Trinity Catholic College, Middlesbrough, took the decision to close after the government advised Brits returning from northern Italy to self-isolate.
Two other schools in Cheshire – Brine Leas Academy and Sandbach High – decided to partially shut or send pupils home when they returned from half term trips to Italy.
There are currently 11 towns in northern Italy that have been locked down after 11 people died from the virus and more than 300 others tested positive in a matter of days.
Cransley School was the first to close after pupils started showing flu-like symptoms when they returned from a ski-trip to Bormio, Lombardy, last week.
There were 29 children and five members of staff on the school trip with the private school.
The school is now undergoing a deep clean while those who were in Italy have been told to self-isolate.
Headmaster Richard Pollock, said: ‘I understand that there will be a variety of reactions to this decision amongst parents, and I hope that all families will understand the developing situation and the changing and inconsistent advice given to the school.
‘There are a number of pupils and staff who have vulnerable family members and it is the School’s duty of care to put in place the most secure of measures to minimise any possible infection, despite public policy.
‘The staff, pupils and families of Cransley are our highest concern, and whilst we understand the impact this may have on the education of the pupils and disruption to working practice of parents, we believe this decision is justified.’
Brine Leas Academy then decided to partially shut after teachers and sixth-form pupils also returned from a trip to Italy.
The school posted on their social media accounts that some teaching would still be continuing, depending on ‘staff shortages’.
Cheshire East Council confirmed that Sandbach High School had sent home staff and pupils who had been in Italy.
Dr Matt Tyrer, acting director of public health at Cheshire East Council, said they would ensure returning travellers were implementing ‘the very latest guidance’ for coronavirus.
He continued: ‘The schools have sent home those staff and pupils who have just returned from trips to Italy as a precautionary measure.
‘However, it should be noted the trips did not visit an area specified as a controlled area by the Italian government.
‘We would stress that there are currently no cases of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) identified in Cheshire East.
‘Prevention is always better than cure, so, as with the flu virus, the most effective way for people to protect themselves from Covid-19 is to adopt good respiratory and hand hygiene to prevent the risk of infection and a “catch it, bin it, kill it” approach to coughs and sneezes.’
In the south of the country, Penair School in Truro, Cornwall, sent home a number of children and teachers today who had been on a ski-trip in Italy.
They have also been told to self-quarantine for a period of 14 days as a ‘precautionary measure’.
In a statement, the school urged anyone with concerns about their children developing symptoms to contact the NHS on 111.
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