St Mark’s Primary School to close after staff member tests positive for COVID-19

St Mark’s CE Primary School in Swanage has become the first school in Dorset since schools reopened in September, to have to shut due to a staff member at the school testing positive for COVID-19.

The school in the High Street, located next to The Swanage School, was only open a day before it was closed following the advice of Public Health Dorset. In a blow to the children and parents, the school is expected to remain closed until Monday 21st September 2020.

“Several staff members have been asked to self-isolate for 14 days”

In a statement, Public Health Dorset said:

“We can confirm that there has been a confirmed positive case of COVID-19 involving a member of staff from St Mark’s school. The member of staff was in the school premises at the end of last week and therefore just before children returned to school.

“On advice from Public Health England South West, several staff members have been asked to self-isolate for 14 days. St Mark’s is a small school so this will affect the safe operating levels of the school.

“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.

“Because of the prompt action taken by the school no children have been exposed to or have come into contact with the confirmed case.

“The school will be working closely with Dorset Council and PHE to ensure high standards of hygiene and social distancing are met.

St Marks school

“One of our members of staff tested positive for COVID-19”

Headteacher Sally Craig said:

“We have written to the parents and carers of our pupils advising of a school closure for 14 days. This is after one of our members of staff tested positive for COVID-19.

“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.”

“we are taking all necessary measures to make sure we minimise the risk”

Sam Crowe, Director of Public Health for Dorset and BCP Councils, said:

“Public Health England and the school have completed a risk assessment, and we are taking all necessary measures to make sure we minimise the risk of any transmission in the school.

“The school has been working closely with PHE and ourselves and this is being managed appropriately. We will support the school as they provide home learning to the pupils and we will continue to provide advice and guidance to ensure high standards of hygiene and social distancing are maintained.

“It is important everyone self-isolating adheres to the government guidance; if they don’t have symptoms they do not need to get a test. However if a member of their household has symptoms and takes a test then they should self-isolate.

“I would like to remind all our schools and the wider community that the best way to prevent the spread of the virus is to regularly wash your hands, maintain social distancing and to continue to stay at home as much as possible.

“If you do start to develop coronavirus symptoms, such as a new continuous cough, a high temperature or a loss or change to your sense of taste or smell, please self- isolate and book a test.

“We would like to reassure people living and working in Dorset that while we do expect to see more cases in the weeks and months ahead, we have robust mechanisms in place to contain the infection and protect the health of the local Community.”

“Public health advice to stop the virus spreading”

Mike Wade, Deputy Director for Health Protection at Public Health England South West, said:

“PHE South West is working closely with the school to provide public health advice to stop the virus spreading.

“Everyone should be following social distancing advice to prevent the spread of the virus in schools.

“Good hygiene is the best prevention and there are some simple steps you can take to protect you, your family and colleagues by washing your hands regularly and thoroughly and if you cough, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue.”

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