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210331 | Coronavirus confirmed at nine Cornwall schools and colleges since reopening

Coronavirus confirmed at nine Cornwall schools and colleges since reopening

Schools welcomed pupils back in person on March 8

File photo of a child at school (Image: Getty Images)

Nine schools and colleges across Cornwall have had pupils or staff members test positive for Covid-19 in the past two weeks. Schools welcomed pupils and students back from March 8.

Before that, most children had not set foot on school grounds for months - with March marking the first in-person teaching many of them have had since 2020.

Schools in Cornwall break up for the Easter holidays on Thursday (April 1).

But in the few short weeks they have been open, at least nine of them have seen members of their community test positive for Covid-19.

Camborne Science and International Academy yesterday confirmed that it had a positive case of Covid-19 within Year 9 - its third case.

A text message to parents informed them of this and said: "Parents and carers have been contacted where we have needed Year 9 students to be sent home.

"If you have not been contacted, your children should continue to attend school."

Camborne Science and International Academy

Camborne Science and International Academy is one of the nine schools and colleges which has seen positive Covid-19 tests

It also gave parents guidance on what to do and emphasised that anyone who has not been contacted should not worry.

This comes after the school had confirmed two positive lateral flow tests on March 26.

A letter to parents said: “We are writing to inform you that there have been two positive lateral flow tests of Covid-19 within the school.

“We know you may find this concerning but we are continuing to monitor the situation and are working with Public Health England. Please be reassured that for most people coronavirus will be a mild illness.

“The small number of children who have been in close contact with the individuals who have tested positive for coronavirus have received a telephone to inform that their child must stay at home for 10 days.”

However, a parent told CornwallLive that the school was only sending home children who sit next to those who tested positive.

The school has been approached for a comment regarding this claim from a parent.

Mounts Bay Academy in Penzance also confirmed yesterday that a small number of students had been told to self-isolate after a pupil’s lateral flow test came back positive for coronavirus.

Principal Les Hall said the student will be getting a PCR test to confirm whether or not they have Covid.

These most recent cases, however, are not the only outbreaks of Covid at Cornish schools since they reopened, however.

On March 18, CornwallLive reported that Bodmin College, Truro College, and Lanivet Primary School all had positive cases of coronavirus.

Truro College saw a positive Covid-19 test of an adult student who was last at the college campus on Tuesday, March 9. Any students who had been in contact with the individual then immediately went into self-isolation in line with guidance. Their isolation is due to end tomorrow (Friday 19).

The full statement from Truro and Penwith College read: "Truro College received notification of a positive Covid-19 test result from an adult student who visited the College on Tuesday, March 9.

"As the college’s primary concern is to prevent any further transmission, we initiated our positive Covid test response procedure and contacted individuals who had had any contact with this individual.

"The contacted individuals immediately went into self isolation, following the latest Government guidance and which is due to end on Friday, March 19.”

At Bodmin College, a “small number” of close contacts of the person who tested positive had to self-isolate.

Emmie Seward-Adams, principal of Bodmin College, confirmed the cases and said: “Bodmin College itself has one single confirmed case which was reported to the college on Sunday (March 14).

“Prompt action was taken and as a precautionary measure in accordance with government guidance, a small number of close contacts have been asked to self-isolate. Each of those close contacts was written to individually and general information given to all other staff and parents.

“We have worked closely with Public Health England and Cornwall Council throughout to ensure appropriate action is taken. Cornwall Council’s Public Health team have been excellent in their support and we continue to monitor the case carefully.”

Bodmin College

Nearby Lanivet School, a primary, had to send home two year “bubbles” after two people tested positive for the virus - as well as another two “suspected” cases.

A parent told CornwallLive that the cases were a mix of pupils and staff, but that remains unconfirmed.

Ingrid Bennett, executive head teacher at Lanivet School, hoped to "nip the situation in the bud", by acting quickly on the news of an outbreak - even a small one.

She said: “We have two confirmed and two suspected cases of coronavirus at Lanivet School. Two bubbles are self-isolating and we are expecting all our pupils back on Monday. We trust that our swift action has nipped this situation in the bud and we continue to monitor this situation closely.

“Lanivet School will continue to follow the advice given by our Public Health Team and hope that all our pupils will be able to enjoy their last two weeks of the spring term learning at school.

"The school is very grateful to the supportive community at this time.”

Also in Bodmin, on March 19 Callywith College confirmed that it had three positive Covid-19 cases.

Allyn Jefferies, assistant principal, said the college had carried out 3,000 lateral flow test in two weeks. However, in that time, three unrelated people had tested positive.

Mr Jefferies said: "As the college's primary concern is to prevent any further transmission, on each occasion, we have initiated our positive test response procedure and contacted individuals who had been in close contact with these individuals.

"For each case, the contacted individuals immediately went into self-isolation, following the Government guidance and this was reported to Public Health England.

"The safety of our staff and students remains our top priority and we continue to follow Government and Public Health England advice."

The Temple building at Callywith College

On the same day, Looe Community Academy said it had seen three positive tests for Covid-19.

A letter to parents dated March 16 said there was one case in each of year 7, year 8, and year 9.

A parent told CornwallLive they were concerned about the school’s Covid precautions: "The relevant bubbles have been notified but everyone still remains at school.

"The school insists that children remain in their bubbles but they don't. At lunchtime they talk to anyone and mix with anyone.

"The worrying part is those parents who did not give consent could be carriers and passing it on to other children. The children are now being sent home-testing kits at the end of the week for parents to test them at home.”

Head teacher Scott Yalden defended the school’s safety measures, and said they had been taking one school group in at a time.

This, he said, was to make sure testing was carried out properly.

Mr Yalden said: “We concluded that the benefits of testing far outweigh the inconvenience of isolating any false positive cases, bearing in mind that the whole point of asymptomatic testing is to break the chain of transmission in order to defeat the virus.

"We are not in a position to judge whether our results were true positive or false positive, we simply follow the guidance and isolate the student and any close contacts.”

You can read the full report on this story here.

Fast-forward to March 25, Penair School, Truro, confirmed that a small number of students were sent home following a lateral flow test.

A letter informed parents, and the school remained open.

On Monday (March 29), another college saw a student test positive.

A letter from Cornwall College stated that the test, at its St Austell campus, would not lead to a closure.

It added: “We know that you may find this concerning but we are continuing to monitor the situation and are working closely with Public Health England. This letter is to inform you of the current situation and provide advice on how to support your child. Please be reassured that for most people, coronavirus (Covid-19) will be a mild illness.”

Students are expected to continue attending if they remain well.

What happens if a child tests positive for coronavirus at school?

Schools are currently testing pupils, mostly with lateral flow testing kits which are inserted into the nose and throat to quickly find out if someone has Covid.

A lateral flow test looks for a specific biological ‘marker’ of Covid-19 to indicate if someone is infected.

These are quick - but not the most reliable tests in the world.

As a result, if a child does test positive on one of these kits the most common course of action is to arrange a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.

These have a much higher (80-85%) accuracy rate, and are what is generally used to ‘confirm’ if someone has Covid-19.

If a child does test positive with a PCR test, they must self isolate for 14 days in line with Public Health England guidance.

Other people, including teachers, classmates, and family members, who have been in contact with the child may also need to self isolate.

Parents in some areas of Cornwall can also now get free regular tests.

 

 

 

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