UK school closures following Italy coronavirus outbreak

Schools across the UK have closed to protect against coronavirus as Italy deals with the largest European outbreak of Covid-19.

Pupils returning to the UK from ski-trips to Italy have been asked to self-isolate at home - while some schools have closed completely.

At least seven UK schools have now closed.

  • What does the Public Health England's advice to "self isolate" actually mean?

Burbage Primary School in Buxton sent a message to parents via WhatsApp on Wednesday evening informing them the school would be closed on Thursday due to a "confirmed case of coronavirus amongst our parent population".

The infected person is believed to be a parent who has just returned from Tenerife where a hotel with over 1,000 guests is on lockdown after a guest tested positive.

The ContinU Plus Academy in Kidderminster said it was closed for the day on Wednesday after a staff member had been in "close contact" with a family member who was self-isolating following a trip to northern Italy.

William Martin CofE Junior, Infant and Nursery School in Harlow, Essex, also said it had closed on Wednesday after a staff member had returned from Italy.

Pupils at a Birmingham school were sent home on Wednesday and the building closed "with immediate effect for a deep clean".

Six students from the Tudor Grange Academy in Kingshurst who recently returned from Italy were suffering from "flu-like symptoms" a letter to parents said.

St Peter's C of E middle school in Old Windsor, Berkshire, said on social media it had closed for the day as well.

Elsewhere the Lime Academy Watergall, in Peterborough has closed for the rest of the week.

Airport staff in Hungary check the temperature of a passenger returning from Milan. Credit: AP

Elsewhere a Carlisle school is allowing pupils to work from home because of fears about possible spread of the virus.

Students at Austin Friars School have been allowed to take an "authorised absence" following a ski trip to northern Italy.

Students at Austin Friars School have been allowed to take an 'authorised absence'. Credit: ITV Border

On Tuesday, Cransley School in Northwich, Cheshire, and Trinity Catholic College in Middlesbrough announced they would be closed for the rest of the week to allow for "deep cleans".

Pupils and teachers from both schools had returned from ski trips in the coronavirus-hit areas of northern Italy.

Staff at Trinity Catholic College said that a "small number of staff and pupils" had started showing mild flu-like symptoms following a ski trip.

It comes as Health Secretary Matt Hancock said official advice has been changed - those returning from anywhere in Italy north of Pisa should self-isolate if they develop flu-like symptoms.

Public Health England confirmed, however, that it is not advising schools shut in an attempt to stem the spread of coronavirus.

Police officers check transit to and from the cordoned area in Guardamiglio, Italy. Credit: AP

Elsewhere Lutton St Nicholas and Gedney Church End primary schools in Lincolnshire also said they had closed. Both said they had "a potential connection" to the virus from "an individual within the school".

St Christopher's C of E High School in Accrington told parents it would be shut on Wednesday.

Sandbach High School in Cheshire said students and staff who visited Aprica, in Italy's Lombardy region, were to stay indoors and self-isolate.

A third Cheshire school, Brine Leas School in Nantwich, closed its sixth form due to staff shortages following Government advice regarding travel to Italy.

Sandbach High School in Cheshire has asked a group returning from Italy to self-isolate Credit: ITV News

A number of other schools have advised students to remain at home. These include:

  • Burbage Primary School in Buxton

  • Penair School in Truro, Cornwall

  • Salendine Nook High School in Huddersfield

  • Cardinal Heenan Catholic High School in West Derby

  • Newquay Tretherras in Newquay

  • Austin Friars School, Carlisle

In Northern Ireland around 50 pupils and staff were sent home on Tuesday.

Cambridge House Grammar School said it had taken the measures as a precaution after the group returned from an Italian ski holiday.

The trip had visited the Lombardy region in northern Italy but did not visit nine towns affected by the infection and showed no symptoms.

Lewis Murphy was on the ski trip with Middlesbrough school Trinity Catholic College. His father, Ben Murphy, told ITV News the school had handled the situation well.

He said: "We heard from Trinity Catholic College about 10.30am to inform us the staff and children will be sent home as a precaution.

"We have contacted 111 and are awaiting a response, the school have closed its doors till Monday for a deep clean even though they didn't have to.

"I can only thank the staff and head teacher for looking after my son throughout the skiing trip and now through this development.

"We have no reason to be worried, he isn't showing any symptoms and as far as I know neither is anyone else, there's too many rumours floating about, we as a family will take it as it comes and deal with it."

Lewis Murphy was sent home from a school ski trip in Verona as a precaution.

England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said schools could be shut and public transport reduced if coronavirus became a global pandemic.

Prof Whitty said: "There's no secret there's a variety of things you need to look at at, you look at things like school closures, you look at things like reducing transport."

Prof Whitty said families could also be asked to self-isolate if one of them had symptoms of the virus.

People wearing sanitary masks sits in front of the Duomo gothic cathedral, in Milan, Italy. Credit: AP

Public Health England is not advising that schools shut in an attempt to stem the spread of the virus.

The organisation's medical director Paul Cosford told Radio 4's Today programme: "Schools have to take difficult decisions given the complexity of issues that they are facing.

"What I would say is that our general advice is not to close schools.

He added that Public Health England was available to talk to schools about their "specific circumstances" and "help them make the right decisions for them".