'Belt and braces' approach to Sars

AN independent school has decided to adopt a 'belt and braces' approach to the deadly Sars virus and keep a few children in quarantine to ensure that there is no risk to other pupils.

AN independent school has decided to adopt a 'belt and braces' approach to the deadly Sars virus and keep a few children in quarantine to ensure that there is no risk to other pupils.

Woodbridge School has segregated three children who returned from an uninfected area of China and kept them in a former boarding house where they are being monitored daily and working in isolation from the rest of the school.

Stephen Cole, headmaster, said: "They are showing no symptoms at all and they are being kept in quarantine just for the peace of mind for other students and parents. It is a belt and braces approach and they are being looked after by staff and being checked every day."

He said there were four other pupils who had decided to stay with their guardians and they were being sent work.

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Mr Cole has written to senior school parents telling them that pupils returning from Hong Kong, China or other areas will complete a health questionnaire, have their temperatures recorded for a ten-day period.

"In addition, and despite very strong medical advice that this is unnecessary, any such pupils will be segregated until they have served a quarantine period. I am aware that the vast majority will feel that this extra step is superfluous, but there is a very small minority who have expressed concern."

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Framlingham College is not segregating pupils who have returned from Hong Kong and the Far East, but Gwen Randall, headmistress, said that that they had been asked not to go into Framlingham during the 10-day monitoring period.

She said that, in the school's view, there were some people in the community who were "unduly frightened" and it would be better to keep the children out of the town.

Mrs Randall said the school's Chinese students had adopted a very responsible approach and some had taken more rigorous testing than was required and had had chest x-rays and blood tests.

A spokeswoman for St Felix and St George's School, Southwold, said students returning from countries affected by Sars would not be placed in quarantine, but would be carefully monitored for ten days after their arrival.

Pupils would be required to visit the school medical centre twice a day for the ten day period.

She said a statement had been posted on school noticeboards which stated advice had been sought from the school doctor, the local health authority, the local education authority and the World Health Organisation.

John Richardson, headteacher at Culford School, near Bury St Edmunds, said he had taken advice from the Public Health Authority, the Medical Officers of Schools Association, the Boarding Schools Association and Independent Schools Council.

In line with this advice, anybody who has been to an affected country is tested twice daily for temperature over a 10 day period.

He said: "If we pick up a rise in temperature, we have quarantine facilities in place and the ability to barrier nurse patients by isolating them entirely. This is in place should there be a need."

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