Confirmed COVID-19 case in Cross in Hand

24th September

A local primary school is thought to be the first in the Heathfield area to have a confirmed COVID-19 case among pupils.

Public Health England says that there has been a single confirmed case at Cross In Hand School Primary School and appropriate advice has been given.

The Public Health England spokesperson was not able to confirm whether there are any other cases at schools in Heathfield.

Specialists from Public Health England (PHE) South East provide expert advice and support to schools in the event of a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Trish Mannes, deputy director for health protection at PHE South East, said: “Following a confirmed case we work closely with the school and local authority to provide public health advice aimed at helping stop the spread of the virus.

“Staff and children who are identified as close contacts of the confirmed case will be instructed to self-isolate for 14 days from last exposure, even if they have no symptoms, to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus.”

Parent Charlie Carey, who has two boys at the school, said: “It is totally ridiculous that over 100 children have to stay off school. The bubbles should be much smaller. Siblings still have to go to school, but the child that can’t go is not allowed on school property so you have to leave them in the car totally unprotected. What if a car hits your parked car? What if someone tries to take your child? What if they decided to wander off from the car? My children’s ages are 4 to 7 and to leave them alone in a car for 10 to 15 minutes is ridiculous.

“Are we allowed use babysitters, so parents can still work? There doesn’t seem to be an answer for this. The guidelines just say other household members can continue as normal. What happens if we are back a week and there is another positive? aAre we expected to take another two weeks off work unpaid? I’ve been told to homeschool and the school have given work but I’m trying to work from home – so how am I supposed to do the school work with them?”

Schools have been advised to take steps to help reduce the spread of the virus, including staff and pupils washing their hands more often than usual for 20 seconds with soap and water, coughing and sneezing into tissues and promoting the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach, cleaning frequently touched surfaces regularly and minimising contact with other people as far as possible.

Local authorities and PHE have plans in place to support schools in the event of cases among pupils or staff. And with the virus still circulating, following the guidance is vital in helping protect local communities.

Ms Mannes added: “Our research has shown that the number of outbreaks in schools tends to reflect the rate of infection in the wider community. The more cases there are in an area, the more likely it is we will see cases in schools as well.

“Reducing the spread of COVID-19 in the community will help prevent cases in schools. That means it is more important than ever that people continue to follow the government’s advice on social distancing, hand hygiene and other infection control measures.

“Children who are unwell should not attend school, regardless of whether their illness is COVID-19 related or not. Anyone who experiences the symptoms of COVID-19 should seek a test.”

Schools have been advised to take appropriate public health measures in line with national guidance to ensure it is safe for other pupils and staff to attend as normal. However, if anyone does develop symptoms, which include a new continuous cough, high temperature or loss or change to their sense of taste or smell, they should self-isolate straight away and arrange a COVID-19 test: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/testing-and-tracing/ask-for-a-test-to-check-if-you-have-coronavirus/