Staff advised to follow the 1-metre flu rule

15th May 2009 at 01:00
And teachers at the first school hit are giving up their holiday to coach GCSE pupils

Teachers should keep at least a metre away from pupils with swine flu, government guidance warns.

The advice, published on the Teachernet website this month, tells schools what to do if a pupil falls ill with the virus while on site.

Staff looking after the child should wash their hands thoroughly afterwards and "encourage good respiratory hygiene on the part of the child", the guidance says.

"If no facemask is available, the member of staff should try to keep one metre away from the child whenever possible; if the child is young, staff will want to be reassuring . while keeping a distance."

Separate contingency advice drawn up by exam boards and Ofqual, the exams regulator, warns that if pupils choose not to sit an exam for fear of infection, they will not receive special consideration.

Meanwhile, the first school to be hit by swine flu, will be working with GCSE pupils over half term to make up for lost time.

Paignton Community College in Devon, which shut for seven school days when a 12-year-old pupil was diagnosed with the H1N1 virus, reopened on Monday with an assembly based on the Government's message: "Catch it, bin it, kill it".

The school has quickly returned to normality, but staff were concerned that those facing exams were anxious. Marilyn Newton, assistant principal, will be among the 30 or so staff to give up some of their Whitsun holiday to help pupils.

"We did revision classes in February half-term and discussed whether we should do one in May," she said. "But the closure of the school made our minds up.

"The closure did affect pupils. When we told them they were going home, there was an intake of breath. We are putting on these revision classes to ease their anxieties.

The school will be open for four days offering pupils half-day sessions. Staff have been asked to volunteer to come in, and they can claim pay for the extra work.

The number of people in the UK infected with swine flu stood at 68 as The TES went to press. So far, all infections here have been mild.

www.teachernet.gov.ukeducation overviewflupandemic.

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