Pupils sent home as at least eight schools in the South report positive Covid tests

A primary school in Dorset is the latest to fall victim to a coronavirus diagnosis.

The whole of St Mark's CE Primary in Swanage is having to close for two weeks after a staff member tested positive.

St Mark's CE Primary will remain closed until September 21st

In a statement issued on Tuesday evening, the council said that because the school is small, there will not be enough teachers to keep it open safely.

On advice from Public Health England, several staff members have been asked to self-isolate for 14 days. St Mark’s is a small school so this will affect its safe operation. For the safety of their pupils, St Mark’s CE Primary School has no option but to close until the end of the isolation period. The school will be closed from immediate effect and we expect it to reopen on Monday 21 September.

Statement from Dorset Council

Headteacher Sally Craig said: “I would like to reassure our parents we have been working closely with PHE and Dorset Council to make sure this is managed appropriately and the school will be ready to reopen soon. We will be making arrangements so pupils can carry out work at home so that they can continue their learning.”

More than half a dozen schools in the South have been affected by coronavirus cases.

Members of staff and pupils from at least eight schools in the region are having to self-isolate for two weeks, just a few days into the start of term.

There are concerns that isolated shut-downs are likely to become commonplace.

Letters have been sent to parents at schools in the Berkshire and Kent in the last two days, alerting them to the situation and offering reassurance.

Letter sent to parents from Garth Hill College in Bracknell

The schools affected so far are:

  • Cardinal Newman School in Hove: Two classes of Year 7 pupils are self-isolating after a teaching assistant tested positive

  • St Peter's Catholic Primary, Sittingbourne: All Year 6 pupils self-isolating after a child tested positive

  • Highsted Grammar School, Sittingbourne: Year 7 students self-isolating

  • South Avenue Primary, Sittingbourne: Year 1 and Year 5 students self-isolating

  • Edgebarrow School, Crowthorne: An unspecified member of the school community has tested positive and parents have been sent a letter advising them of precautions

  • The Brakenhall School, Bracknell: Several Year 13 students self-isolating after a pupil tested positive

  • Garth Hill College, Bracknell: A sixth form student tested positive at the weekend so three fellow students are self-isolating

  • St Mark's CE Primary School, Swanage: The whole school has closed after a staff member tested positive

Director of public health for Kent, Andrew Scott-Clark, said: “Ensuring pupils and staff can learn and work in a safe environment remains the overriding priority and we work closely with PHE to ensure that any suspected cases of Covid-19 within a school are managed effectively to minimise the spread of the virus."