Harrogate schools issue advice to parents on Coronavirus after pupils and staff travel to Italy for half-term ski breaks

Schools across Harrogate have taken precautions to deal with the potential outbreak of the Coronavirus following a number of half-term skiing trips to Italy.

Wednesday, 26th February 2020, 12:02 pm
Updated Wednesday, 26th February 2020, 1:07 pm

St Aidan's CoE High School has now announced that the party of 34 Sixth Form students and four staff have been told to self-isolate for six days after returning from a trip to North Italy last week, following new advice from Public Health England (PHE).

The self-isolation period will be in place until Sunday, March 1.

St Aidan's CoE High School has taken self-isolation precautions advised by PHE following a half-term skiing trip to Italy.

A spokesperson for the school said: "During February half-term our Sixth Form ski trip visited a resort in the north of Italy. Following the change in advice from PHE on Tuesday, February 25 the school was advised by PHE that the party of 34 students and four staff should self-isolate for a period of six days.

"This self-isolation was enacted immediately and will be in place until Sunday, March 1. PHE have not required any other measures to be put in place by the school."

"During the six day isolation period we will of course maintain close contact with those students and staff involved and will continue to take advice from PHE as required."

Harrogate Grammar School also confirmed yesterday that it has been taking all necessary measures following its own skiing trip to Italy last week.

It comes as the virus has now spread to Italy, with 11 towns in Lombardy and Veneto currently on lockdown and police manning checkpoints around the towns in quarantine.

While the Grammar School trip did not actually visit the affected areas directly, officials have confirmed that they are taking all the necessary precautions after taking advice from PHE and North Yorkshire County Council.

A letter has been written to parents to make them aware of the situation and informed them that children should remain in school unless they are displaying any of the Coronavirus symptoms.

Richard Sheriff, Executive Headteacher at Harrogate Grammar School, said: "Like many schools, we had children at a ski resort in Italy over half term, but I would like to stress that this was not in one of the affected areas.

"We have been liaising with PHE and officials at North Yorkshire County Council and have been following the exact advice they have been giving to all schools.

"We have published a letter to parents following this advice and that of the Department for Education, which is for anyone who has been on holiday over half term, whether that be the skiing trip or anywhere else, to continue coming in to school as normal unless they begin to have flu-like symptoms.

"If anybody does have any symptoms, they should self-isolate immediately and call NHS 111 - as advised by Public Health England.

"We are just a school and cannot give medical advice - we are just following advice from those who are professionals in this field."

Health officials have confirmed that more than 320 people have tested positive for the virus in Italy, with 11 of the cases proving fatal - the majority of deaths occurring in the worst impacted region of Lombardy.

COVID-19, the disease caused by the Coronavirus, originated from Wuhan in China. As of February 25, the outbreak has affected 80,000 people globally. There have been 13 recorded cases and no fatalities to date in the UK.

The World Health Organisation has urged anyone who has recently been to mainland China, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan. Singapore, Malaysia or Macau in the last 14 days and who is experiencing a cough or fever or shortness of breath to stay indoors and call NHS 111.

Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.