Kids will be sent home from school on “daily, if not weekly basis” with coronavirus symptoms, says Hammersmith and Fulham council’s education chief

By Julia Gregory, Local Democracy Reporter

It is likely to become normal to have a handful of pupils sent home after testing positive for coronavirus, according to a west London council’s education head.

Jan Parnell said one Year 10 child and three primary school pupils had recently tested positive at Hammersmith and Fulham schools.

It means their bubbles – or small groups of pupils – have also had to stay home in quarantine.

And she said: “We’ve had just a number of single outbreaks. There’s a single individual who’s tested positive.

“This has happened in one of our secondary schools in the past week, one single Year 10, and we’ve also had now three primaries with one single primary child testing positive.

“This is going to be something that’s happening on a daily, if not a weekly basis and our schools have been absolutely amazing in working with us in trying to contain this.”

She told the council’s children’s policy and accountability committee on Tuesday: “We want to keep all of our schools open and working in bubbles. These are individual cases and we are taking precautions.”

All schools are now open in Hammersmith and Fulham, after one school – Cambridge Road – opened partially to create more space which was provided by its neighbour Phoenix Academy.

She said head teachers had been sent 292 government guidance documents since the pandemic started in March and the council helped them interpret the guidance.

And five primary schools – Avonmore, Normand Croft, St Mary’s, Addison and Melcombe – participated in Public Health England’s KIDS testing project.

The pupils and staff had swab and antibody tests at the beginning and end of the summer term, with another test due in October. They all had negative results so far.

The council’s director of public health, Dr Nicola Lang, explained the schools were recruited quickly and picked because they have high numbers of BAME students to help scientists understand the virus better.

Overall 138 schools in England are involved in the study and 89 are getting weekly swab tests.

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