A Staffordshire secondary school has been forced to close after seeing a “rapid increase” in coronavirus cases.
Pupils at John Taylor High School, in Barton under Needwood, have been told they will now be learning from home for the rest of the term.
Bosses at the school – as well as Staffordshire County Council, Public Health England (PHE) Midlands – took the decision to switch to “high-quality remote learning” for the final two days of term.
A spokesman for the council said the closure aims to provide a “break” in transmission, after cases peaked rapidly since last Wednesday.
Friday was already scheduled as a training day, so pupils were not expected to come in.
The school will reopen fully, after the Christmas break, on Monday, January 4. During the closure, the school will also arrange for a deep clean, reports StaffordshireLive.
Dr Nic Coetzee, consultant in communicable disease control for PHE Midlands, said: “John Taylor High School is working closely with public health professionals to protect the health and wellbeing of the school community and wider public health.
“Since March, the school has been working hard to ensure the learning environment is as covid-secure as possible.
“However, East Staffordshire has a markedly higher incidence rate of covid-19 than the rest of the county, so this is naturally going to have an impact on case numbers at the school.
“We now have a situation where a large number of students and teachers are off after either contacting the virus, or because they are isolating for at least 10 days because they are contacts of a positive case.
“This makes running the school more of a challenge, but still possible, however the decision was made to switch to online learning as an infection control measure.
“PHE and the local authority will continue to monitor the situation and give advice and support to the school.”
Katie Cochrane, head teacher at John Taylor High School, said: “The school community has worked tirelessly to ensure that our students and staff have been kept safe, working within the government guidelines and support from the Local Health Protection Team.
“We recognise this course of action as necessary, but naturally would wish it were not so and have done this with the full support and approval of the trust.
“We wish all members of our community affected a speedy recovery and we very much look forward to welcoming everyone back to school in January.”
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Dr Richard Harling, the council’s director of health and care, said: “We have seen an increase in cases, particularly among school aged children in parts of East Staffordshire.
“We are now encouraging all parents and students without symptoms and who live in the identified Covid-19 hotspot areas of Anglesey, Eton Park, Horninglow, Shobnall, Brizlincote, Branston or Winshill to get tested as part of our community programme.
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“This will help us identify more people who unknowingly have the virus, which in turn helps us break the chain of infection in local communities.”
It is not known exactly how many pupils and staff at John Taylor have tested positive.