Covid-19 outbreak at Uppingham School, in Rutland, forces almost 600 pupils to self-isolate
Almost 600 pupils are self-isolating at Uppingham School after an outbreak of Covid-19.
The independent boarding school today confirmed 32 cases had so far been recorded across all five year groups, with almost 600 pupils self-isolating for 10 days as close contacts.
Of those 32 cases, 12 pupils have confirmed infections after a PCR test, with the remaining 20 awaiting confirmation after positive lateral flow tests.
The news follows the publication of Rutland's latest Covid-19 figures which showed the county's infection rate was four times higher than the previous week.
In a statement, the school said the outbreak had come in spite of 'stringent policies and protocols'.
"These policies have been universally welcomed and adopted by the school community, including pupils and staff, and this has ensured until very recently the school has been able to fully function in a ‘new’ normal capacity," it said.
"Despite the success of these measures up to now, there has now been an outbreak of Covid in the school community."
Deputy headteacher Karl Wilding and the school's lead nurse Helen Bell have met with Public Health England and the school will work with them in the coming days.
In response to the numbers isolating, all lessons will move online from Thursday morning and parents will be allowed to pick up their children, whether isolating or not, for home schooling.
Uppingham School has also encouraged overseas pupils to change to earlier flights and isolate with guardians.
The outbreak has disrupted the school programme, with several large-scale events cancelled, including sports day, speech day, and the Leavers Ball.
"The challenge all schools face is that Public Health England have no choice but to enforce Government policy whereby schools must isolate all pupils defined as close contacts," the statement added.
Over the past week, in England alone, absences due to Covid have nearly trebled - with more than 170,000 pupils self-isolating as close contacts,
According to official figures, more children across the UK are currently in forced isolation than at any time since September.
Since mid-May, there has been a national surge in infections among those aged 12 to 18, with school absences due to Covid in England trebling over the past week and more than 170,000 pupils now self-isolating as close contacts.