‘This is what we feared’ – Education expert on school’s closure after suspected coronavirus case

PUBLISHED: 19:00 05 June 2020 | UPDATED: 11:03 08 June 2020

Graham White from the Suffolk branch of the NEU said

Graham White from the Suffolk branch of the NEU said "this is what he feared would happen" following a suspected case of Covid-19 at a primary school in Sudbury Picture: Tudor Morgan-Owen


A primary school in Sudbury has closed following a suspected case of coronavirus just four days after reopening – with a Suffolk union boss admitting this is “what he feared would happen”.

Tudor Church of England Primary School in Sudbury has closed while a staff member receives a test for Covid-19. Picture: GOOGLE MAPSTudor Church of England Primary School in Sudbury has closed while a staff member receives a test for Covid-19. Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

Tudor Church of England Primary School, which is run by the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocesan Multi-Academy Trust, closed on Thursday, June 4, while a staff member receives a test for Covid-19.

The closure, which the school described as a “cautious response”, comes just days after Hamford Primary Academy in Walton-on-the-Naze, closed temporarily after two children tested positive.

Graham White from the Suffolk branch of the National Education Union (NEU) said “this was inevitable” and it furthers the concerns that schools remain unsafe.

He said: “Unfortunately, this is the scenario we feared by schools going back too soon.

“The school has made the right decision to close in this case, but it is a horrible situation which will have negative impacts on the children and staff.”

He said the NEU wants children to get back to school as soon as possible, but it has to be safe.

Mr White believes that currently “all evidence points to the fact that it is not safe to do so”.

“The longer we delay the return the safer this would be,” he added.

Mr White said that while children are no more or less likely to spread coronavirus, it is “very difficult” for them to social distance in the same way as adults.

If someone in a school catches the virus they risk infecting other children and staff – which could easily cause an outbreak.

Test and tracing would then be required, but Mr White fears this process “is too slow”.

Suffolk County Council said at the point a student or staff member shows or reports symptoms to their school colleagues, it will be the choice of the school leader to take the relevant action they feel is appropriate and they are not required to close the school.

The test could take up to 72 hours before results come back on whether the member of staff has Covid-19.

The government advice states that if it comes back positive, the rest of their class or group within their education setting should be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 14 days.

The other household members of that wider class or group do not need to self-isolate unless the child, young person or staff member they live with in that group subsequently develops symptoms.

In some cases a larger number of other children may be asked to self-isolate at home as a precautionary measure – perhaps the whole class, site or year group.

If in this case the staff member tests negative, they can return to their setting and the fellow household members can end their self-isolation.

According to the Tudor Church of England Primary School’s website, teachers are “hopeful to be back up and running again on Monday”.

The academy trust did not comment further on the school’s closure.

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