At least seven schools affected by coronavirus

School leaders say they will authorise absences for pupils whose families wish to self-isolate amid coronavirus outbreak

Tes Reporter

Staff and pupils at seven schools are self-isolating after the coronavirus outbreak

More than half a dozen schools in East Sussex have pupils or staff in quarantine as a precaution after several cases of coronavirus were diagnosed in the area.

At least seven schools in Brighton, Hove and Eastbourne are understood to have told parents that either a staff member or pupil has been advised to stay at home for 14 days by Public Health England (PHE).

In a letter to parents on Tuesday evening, Varndean School, in Brighton, said a "person from our school community" had been advised to self-isolate for 14 days after having contact with a potential case of the strain of coronavirus, officially named Covid-19 by the World Health Organisation.

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Headteacher William Deighan told parents that the school remained open, adding: "However, I realise that during this worrying time that you may want to make your own decisions about school attendance.

Precautions against coronavirus

"I can confirm that absences you inform us of will be authorised at this time.

"The local authority has confirmed to us that Public Health England and the office of the Chief Medical Officer are clear in their advice that schools do not need to close."

Hangleton Primary School, in Hove, said a parent had decided to self-isolate their family following "a connection to one of the health centres affected by the coronavirus".

School leaders messaged parents on Tuesday saying that while there is a low risk for anyone attending class, they will authorise absences for families wishing to self-isolate.

One parent, who asked to remain anonymous, told the PA news agency that around half of their daughter's class were not in school on Wednesday.

They said: "I think that if the virus is around, keeping your child off school probably wouldn't help.

"Teaching your child good hygiene is the best way we can help prevent the virus spreading.

"My daughter is five years old, I have told her not to cuddle anybody like she normally does."

Portslade Aldridge Community Academy, in Brighton, said the school was contacted by a parent of a student on Friday 7 February who was advised to self-isolate their child.

Principal Mark Poston told parents on Wednesday: "I am pleased to say that the family have updated the school that tests have been done and they are not a confirmed case.

"The student will continue to follow PHE advice to self-isolate for the full recommended 14-day period."

A letter shared online, believed to have been sent to parents at Ocklynge Junior School, in Eastbourne, said a staff member has been advised to self-isolate.

The letter said the person involved had had "limited contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus".

Headteacher Jon Reynard added that the school was "looking forward to learning continuing as normal in the approach to the half-term break".

A similar letter was sent to parents of pupils at Ratton School, in Eastbourne.

Meanwhile, pupils at Cottesmore St Mary's Catholic Primary School, in Hove, and Bevendean Primary School, in Brighton, have been told they can stay at home after a couple of teachers feared they had come into contact with the virus.

Reports of three further schools with a staff member or pupil in isolation have not yet been verified.

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