Coronavirus latest: UK schools close and send pupils home to self-quarantine after half-term ski trips to Italy

Patrick Grafton-Green, Sean Morrison
Cransley Independent Day School has decided to close for a week after pupils and staff returned from a skiing trip: Getty Images

Schools across the UK have closed and sent pupils home to self-quarantine following half-term skiing trips to coronavirus-hit parts of Italy.

It follows new advice given by the UK's Chief Medical Officer on Tuesday which said that anyone returning from locked down areas of Italy should quarantine themselves regardless of whether they feel ill.

Three schools in Cheshire, one in Middlesbrough, Cornwall, Doncaster, Liverpool and another in Northern Ireland have since confirmed that they have either completely closed or sent pupils home to self-isolate.

Italy has seen a surge in cases in recent days, with now at least 229 confirmed diagnoses and seven deaths, mainly centred in the Lombardy region.

Cransley School in Northwich, Cheshire, posted a lengthy statement on Facebook on Monday night and said the school will be closed until test results are made available.

Pupils visited the town of Bormio, in the Lombardy region, during the half-term break.

In a post online, Cransley School's headmaster Richard Pollock said he had been called by NHS clinical services "advising me to ensure that the pupils and staff who visited Bormio last week self-isolate, regardless of whether they are showing symptoms of being unwell".

He said: "This means non-attendance tomorrow and for the remainder of the week. All pupils who are unwell should inform NHS 111 and insist on being tested for the coronavirus."

"During this time", he added, "the school will be able to conduct a deep clean, and monitor the results of tests amongst those pupils who are currently showing flu-like symptoms."

Trinity Catholic College in Middlesbrough became the second school in England to close completely due to precautions over Covid-19.

At Brine Leas School in Nantwich, Cheshire, sixth formers recently returned from a trip to northern Italy and the Sixth Form College has been closed while the rest of the school remains open.

The school tweeted: "We are currently following Government advice regarding travel to Italy."

A third Cheshire school, Sandbach School, sent home students and staff who went on a ski trip to Aprica in the Lombardy region.

The school said no one has shown symptoms of the virus and confirmed on Twitter that it had not closed.

Penair School in Truro, Cornwall, wrote on Facebook: "Following an announcement at 8am 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."

One parent wrote: “So daughter is now in two-week self-quarantine after ski trip to Italy; week skiing then fortnight off school won’t go down too badly.

“Apparently the kids ‘are ecstatic and having fun in a quarantine group chat’.

“Penair School has done the right thing, on official advice.”

Students and staff at Hall Cross Academy in Doncaster have also been told to remain at home and to self-isolate, according to a post on the school's website.

The post added: "I can reassure you that we have no confirmed cases of coronavirus amongst any members of the school community and the above action has been taken as a precaution having taken advice."

Around 50 pupils and staff at a grammar school in Co Antrim, Northern Ireland, have also been sent home as a precaution.

They too were in the Lombardy region but did not visit nine towns affected by the Covid-19 infection and are showing no symptoms.

Cambridge House Grammar school principal Elma Lutton said: “Taking cognisance of advice from the Public Health Agency and following advice from the Education Authority, the pupils and staff on that ski trip have been sent home for 14 days’ self-quarantine.

“This is precautionary, none of them were in those nine towns, none are showing any symptoms.

“They were in the Lombardy region but went through Milan airport.”

Cardinal Heenan Catholic High School in West Derby, an affluent suburb in Liverpool, said a number of pupils and staff went on a ski trip to northern Italy but did not visit any of the towns under quarantine.

They were medically screened on entry to and from Milan airport and, as a precautionary measure, the school has sent them all home.

The school said will monitor the potential symptoms within the pupil and staff populations.

In a letter and email issued to all parents, headteacher Karen Smyth said: "It is important to recognise that the risk of catching coronavirus is minimal."

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