Friday, June 21

Schools told to keep doors open



Schools and nurseries do not need to close or send pupils home in the event of contact with someone suspected of having the coronavirus, according to new guidelines to be issued to schools across the UK this week.

In the face of confusion over what the correct response should be, Public Health England and the Department for Education are to issue headteachers and childcare providers with fresh guidance on Monday .

Some schools in Brighton and Hove have told parents they can choose to keep their children off school as authorised absences, after five people from the area were diagnosed with the virus, also known as Covid-19.

But a department spokeswoman said: We are aware that some schools have said that parents can keep their children at home this is not the advice. For those who are in contact with a suspected case in a childcare or educational setting, no restrictions or special control measures are required while laboratory test results for Covid-19 are awaited.

There is no need to close the setting or send other learners or staff home. Therefore, until the outcome of test results is known, there is no action that staff members need to take. People who test negative for Covid-19 will be advised individually about their return to education.

She said it was helpful for schools to approach the virus like any other infectious disease. Therefore, it is not advised that the whole school is notified that an individual is undergoing testing. Rather, communications to contacts would be circulated if a case is confirmed, she added.

So far, 3,000 people have been tested for the disease in the UK and there have been nine confirmed cases.

If a child is suspected of having contracted the disease, it is their parents responsibility to inform the school that the child is staying off in order to get tested or because the child needs to self-isolate, the spokeswoman added.

The local health protection team would only inform the school directly when a child is confirmed to have the virus.

If a case is confirmed, then the local health protection team would speak to the headteacher and action would be taken from there, she said.

Schools affected by coronavirus outbreaks in their area have been given bespoke advice by the authorities.