UK schools begin to close their doors as coronavirus sweeps Italy

25 February 2020, 11:55

Students and teachers at Penair school have been told to self isolate
Students and teachers at Penair school have been told to self isolate. Picture: Google

By Maddie Goodfellow

Five UK schools have sent pupils home under orders to self-isolate today after arriving back in England from half term ski trips in the coronavirus-hit Lombardy region of Italy.

Penair school, in Truro, sent home all of the teachers and pupils that attended the Italian excursion.

Two more schools, both in Cheshire, made the decision on Tuesday to send pupils home after some developed flu-like symptoms following ski trips to the region.

Cransley School, in Northwich, has completely closed its doors after headteacher Richard Pollock told parents that the closure would remain in place for the rest of the week in order to "completely minimise" the risk of infection.

Brine Leas Academy in Nantwich said on Twitter that it would be closing its sixth form "due to staff shortages."

Teachers at the school have had to self-isolate after returning from the ski trip in Italy.

Cambridge House Grammar school has sent home 50 pupils and staff members following an Italian school trip.

Salendine Nook High School in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, has sent 19 pupils and four staff home who had recently returned from a ski trip.

In a post on Facebook, an official from Truro's Penair school wrote: "Following an announcement at 8 am this morning, regarding the coronavirus, by the Health Secretary and having sought guidance from Public Health England we are required to send all children and staff home who attended the ski trip, to self-quarantine for 14 days.

"Please be assured this is a precautionary measure. If you are concerned about your child developing any symptoms please contact NHS 111.

"We will be writing to parents later today with a further update."

It continued: "We are acting on the advice and guidance of Public Health England after the announcement at 8am this morning. Thank you for your support."

The children had just returned from an excursion to Ponte di Legno in Lombardy.

Lombardy has been at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak in Italy, with the most confirmed cases in Europe.

It comes as the Government today advised all Britons returning from northern Italy to self-isolate at home if they start to suffer symptoms. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told LBC that those who have been to any areas locked down should self-isolate even if they do not feel unwell.

The school announced the decision on Facebook
The school announced the decision on Facebook. Picture: Facebook

The decision has been met with furious responses from parents who have expressed their anger that the whole school has not been evacuated.

One parents commented: "But what about the rest of the school? If the people from the school trip were at school, isn’t the whole school now at risk?"

Another stated: "Not good enough this should have been thought through a bit more carefully."

"Get everyone out and clean the school or I'm going to get legal advice," commented a third concerned parent, who later wrote that she had "messaged her son and told him to walk out and come home".

It comes a day after three students at Torquay Boys' Grammar School in Devon tested negative for the virus after returning from a ski trip in the coronavirus-hit region. 

China reported 508 new cases and another 71 deaths on Tuesday, 68 of them in the central city of Wuhan, where the epidemic was first detected in December.

The updates bring mainland China's totals to 77,658 cases and 2,663 deaths.

South Korea now has the second-most cases in the world with 893 and has had a near 15-fold increase in reported infections in a week, with 60 new cases reported on Tuesday.

In Italy, 229 people have tested positive for the virus and seven have died.