Five teachers at a school in Suffolk have tested positive for coronavirus, prompting the school to shut, as parents around Middlesbrough were also warned about student infections in three schools in the area.
The infections come a week after children began returning to classrooms in England for the first time since lockdown in March.
Five members of the teaching staff at a school in Suffolk tested positive for Covid-19, with the academy shut on Monday following advice from Public Health England.
Two other members of staff at the Samuel Ward academy in Haverhill are awaiting results. The school said in a statement that the closure was a “precautionary measure” and it hoped to reopen on Tuesday.
The school’s headteacher, Andy Hunter, said the safety of pupils was his “biggest priority” and there was a sense of “huge disappointment after working so hard to get the school back up and running”. He added that the school had “taken very extensive precautions”. A deep clean is to take place at the premises.
Stuart Keeble, the director of public health at Suffolk county council, said: “Understandably, this news may worry parents across Suffolk, but it is important to remember that the risk of children contracting Covid-19 is still very small. Evidence suggests that children are more likely to contract Covid-19 at home.”
Anyone who has been in close contact with the infected staff has been contacted and asked to self-isolate for 14 days, the school said. Further contact tracing will continue and other pupils and staff may be asked to self-isolate.
Elsewhere, coronavirus cases have been confirmed at three schools in the area around Middlesbrough, although they will not be closing. Redcar and Cleveland borough council said on Sunday that a positive case had been recorded at St Benedict’s RC primary school.
St Aidan’s CE primary school, in Hartlepool, said in a Facebook post to parents it also had a confirmed Covid-19 case, while Outwood Academy Ormesby, in Middlesbrough, said in a short statement that a confirmed case had been found “within the school community”.
In a statement to parents on Sunday, St Aidan’s headteacher, Lynn Chambers, said the individual who tested positive had been sent home after they showed symptoms.
She said: “Public Health England advised that as no child had been in close contact with the individual there was no need for any child to stay at home or self-isolate as a result.”
Outwood Academy Ormesby, in Netherfields, Middlesbrough, said the person who tested positive did not contract the virus at the secondary school. In a Facebook post on Sunday, it said: “We have worked with experts from Public Health England to take all of the steps we need to and have already identified all those who need to stay at home and self-isolate.
“If we have not already spoken directly to you about this, then your child does not need to make any change to their usual routine, including attending school.
“To be clear, your child should attend school as normal unless you have already been contacted directly to advise that they should self isolate.”
In Redcar and Cleveland, 38 new coronavirus cases were recorded in the seven days to 1 September – the equivalent of 27.7 per 100,000 people, up from 10.2 in the seven days to 25 August. The rate in Hartlepool also rose, from 7.5 to 22.4, with 21 new cases, while Middlesbrough’s rate has risen from 28.4 to 31.2, with 44 new cases.
Middlesbrough was added to the government’s Covid-19 watchlist as an “area of concern” on Friday.