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Covid outbreak at Uppingham Community College in Rutland

A school is facing its worse covid outbreak to date as a steep rise of cases were recorded within days.

In a letter to parents, principal of Uppingham Community College Ben Solly described the school’s covid situation as a ‘cause for concern’.

On Tuesday, the school in London Road had 25 confirmed cases among pupils in the school community and one positive member of staff.

Uppingham Community College
Uppingham Community College

These cases occurred in a three day period which totals to more positive tests in three days than the school has had in the past 18 months.

In the letter, Mr Solly said: “We are not in a situation, as we were last year, where year group bubbles are being sent home.

“Current guidance is for young people aged 18 and under to remain in school unless they have symptoms themselves, or they test positive.

“Therefore, as cases steeply rise in school, our priority has to be protecting the children and adults in the school community as much as we can.”

The school has been liaising with Public Health England, the East Midlands Health Protection Team, Rutland County Council and the Uppingham Community College governing body to work on reducing the rate of transmission.

Its key strategies include good ventilation, twice weekly testing, thorough hand and respiratory hygiene, and additional cleaning.

The school’s also implementing an ‘outbreak management plan’ which includes reintroducing face coverings in classrooms, corridors and school buses for a two week period - a strong recommendation, not a mandate.

Mr Solly was contacted to comment further but did not respond in time.

Mike Sandys, director of public health in Rutland, says the school is taking the right measures to minimise the risk, but warned the wider Rutland community to be cautious.

He said: “Generally, I think people feel covid has gone away and there’s no cases of covid but actually in Rutland, we are running probably on one of the highest levels in the pandemic outside of the particular issues with Stocken Prison.

“It’s worthwhile that people understand there are generally high level of cases of covid out there, when schools go back we are picking them up with testing.”

The county’s infection rate currently stands at 343 per every 100,000 people with 138 people testing positive in the past week. No new deaths have been recorded.

Last year among 15 to 19 year-olds there was a rolling rate of zero compared with 1,245.5 this week. Similarly in the age group of 10 to14 in the past year the R-rate has gone from zero to 1,222.2, demonstrating that the majority of the county’s cases is attributable the younger generation.

The Government is reportedly drawing up contingency plans which could see schools forced to close for a longer period over October half term, as part of emergency efforts to break transmission chains if there is a need to rapidly bring down case numbers.

There are concerns that with coronavirus cases once again on the rise, and all pupils now back at school, that hospitalisations too in the coming weeks will begin to rocket.

“I find it difficult the Government would put in place a lockdown,” said Mr Sandys.

“It’s really in our hands, it’s a shame people do nothing until they are told to do everything with a lockdown.

“It’s always been up to us and our behaviour.”

He encourages people to continue to take precautions, such as wearing a face mask and thorough hand washing.

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