Archbishop Temple School in Preston closes amid coronavirus fears after students return from ski trip to northern Italy

A school in Preston will close today amid coronavirus fears after students returned from a skiing trip to northern Italy.

Wednesday, 26th February 2020, 10:48 am
Updated Wednesday, 26th February 2020, 1:08 pm
Archbishop Temple School in Fulwood has shut today amid coronavirus fears after students returned from a skiing trip to northern Italy, where 11 towns are in quarantine

Archbishop Temple School in Fulwood said it will shut at 12pm today and will remain closed for the rest of the week as a "precautionary measure".

Lancashire County Council said the school, which has 765 pupils and 48 teachers, will undergo a deep clean before reopening on Monday (March 2).

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Coronavirus: this is the full statement from Archbishop Temple School

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It follows the return of students and staff from a skiing trip to northern Italy where 11 towns are in quarantine after an outbreak of coronavirus.

Julie Siddle, acting headteacher at Archbishop Temple Church of England Specialist College, said: "As a purely precautionary measure, we took the decision to close the school at lunchtime for the rest of the week so that a deep clean can take place.

"We've just returned from our half-term trip to Italy, and decided to take this action just to be on the safe side, and to minimise any possible risk of infection spreading in school.

"I'd like to stress though that this is totally precautionary. Also, we did not visit the area in Italy that is currently under quarantine.

"We'd like to thank parents for their understanding and support.

"School will reopen on Monday 2 March."

Eleven people have died from coronavirus in Italy where confirmed cases leaped from three to more than 300 in just four days.

Affected towns and cities popular with tourists including Milan and Venice in the Lombardy and Veneto regions remain in lock-down.

The UK government said anyone returning from the affected regions in northern Italy must self-isolate.

Four schools in England have already shut completely for a "deep clean" after pupils returned from skiing trips, including St Christopher's C of E High School in Accrington.

The Foreign Office has now updated its travel advice, warning against all but essential travel to the 11 quarantined towns in Italy.

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

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.

"What we are clear about is if you have been in the area of northern Italy of concern and you have symptoms - it is a cough, shortness of breath or fever - then you do need to self-isolate, you need to phone NHS 111 and await advice for further assessment or testing.

"Of course if you've been to one of the specific towns that are identified by the Italian government and essentially closed down, then our advice and requirement is to self-isolate anyway."

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

More information for the public on the outbreak of coronavirus can be found here