Schools introduce stricter measures to combat spread of coronavirus

A group of schools that teach 55,000 pupils around the world is stepping up its precautionary measures against the spread of coronavirus.

With the number of coronavirus cases in the UK rising daily, the impact the virus is causing widespread confusion and concern.

The Department for Education says shutting schools should only be considered when absolutely necessary.

The government's advice - reinforced by NHS England - is to ensure good hygiene - which is as far as most schools are going at moment.

But at other schools, head teachers are taking their own - stricter - measures.

Cognita Schools, which has 70 schools across Europe and Asia, including badly hit Hong Kong and Singapore, has told parents to take their own and their child's temperature every morning.

If the reading shows 38 degrees or over, the school rules say the child must stay at home.

Pupils at one school have been told to have their temperatures taken before school each morning. Credit: ITV News

For pupils at Akeley Wood near Milton Keynes, Lily and Ava Muir, having their temperature taken is now as much part of the morning routine as brushing their teeth.

The private school, which is part of the Cognita group, introduced the stringent measures after hearing from colleagues at sister schools in Singapore and Hong Kong.

Chief executive of Cognita Schools Chris Jansen told ITV News: "In Singapore we have thermal checking of everyone who comes into the school community.

"Now we're not recommending we do that here in the UK but we have asked parents to take their temperature and their child's temperature in the morning and just beware of that as it's an early indicator that something isn't quite right."

Willow Bank Infant School was forced to close after a coronavirus confirmed case. Credit: ITV News

On advice from Public Health England, the Department for Education have said schools should remain open, unless advised otherwise.

A spokesperson said: "The Government's action plan sets out current and possible future measures to respond to the Covid-19 outbreak that are proportionate and based on the latest scientific evidence - they will be continually kept under review and the impact of all measures will be carefully considered.

"Public health is clearly the priority, but that does not change our belief that no child should miss out on any education unless absolutely necessary."

Willow Bank Infant school in Reading was forced to close after a positive test, but hopes to re-open as quickly as possible.

Geoff Barton, Association of School and College Leaders told ITV News: "Young people and healthy adults are the least likely to get this virus. And, therefore, I think, there will be an expectation for schools to stay open as long as they can, not just because it's good for for the young people, but also parents of those young people don't have to take time off to look after them."