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Second confirmed case of COVID-19 at Discovery Academy in Bentilee

Published: Wednesday, 16th September 2020

Second confirmed case of COVID-19 at Discovery Academy in Bentilee

Stoke-on-Trent City Council is continuing to work with Public Health England Midlands and the Alpha Academies Trust, following confirmation of a second positive COVID-19 case of a year 11 student at the Discovery Academy in Bentilee. This follows confirmation of a positive case at the end of last week.

In line with NHS guidance, as soon as the year 11 students became symptomatic, they were sent home. They will remain at home to self-isolate for at least 10 days, or until they are free from a temperature for 48 hours – whichever is longer. All members of the household of the affected individual were reminded they must isolate at home for 14 days.

The school has issued letters to inform parents/guardians and staff of the situation and measures taken to reduce spread of COVID-19.

Dr Musarrat Afza, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control at PHE West Midlands, said: “Following two confirmed cases, we are working closely with the Academy Trust and Stoke-on-Trent City Council to provide public health advice aimed at helping stop the spread of the virus.

“A thorough risk-assessment has taken place at Discovery Academy by Public Health England and the Local Authority Environmental Health Officers and we are confident that the Academy Trust has followed the appropriate public health measures in line with national guidance to ensure it is safe for pupils and staff to attend.  Any staff and children who are identified as close contacts of the confirmed cases have and are being contacted and instructed to self-isolate for 14 days.”

Measures put in place have included cleaning the premises thoroughly; especially touch points like door handles, communal areas like toilets and dining hall, and anywhere else the individual/s spent time, to reduce risk of further infection which has been undertaken fully by the school.

Rob Kelsall, principal of the Discovery Academy said: “A second year 11 pupil has tested positive at the Discovery Academy and following lengthy discussions with Public Health England, we have been advised that the correct procedure continues to be to isolate those who have been in close contact with the individual.

“I totally understand the distress and uncertainty this can bring and want to reassure parents, carers, students and staff that anyone who has been in close contact with someone they will be informed immediately and asked to self-isolate.

“To further minimise the risk of transmission, we are going above Department for Education guidance by making face coverings mandatory for all staff and students in secondary academies whilst in indoor communal spaces.   

“We are continually monitoring the situation in order to provide vital education so our students can continue to flourish.”

Cllr Abi Brown, leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council said: “The Alpha Academies Trust have been following precise advice from Public Health England and as the Discovery Academy was one of the first schools to receive notification of a positive test result they have broken the ground on how we deal with these situations that our schools face.

“We are confident through conversations with PHE that they have put the correct procedures in place and are complying with PHE guidance to isolate those who have had close contact with individuals who have tested positive.”

Schools have been advised to take steps to help reduce the spread of the virus, including staff and pupils washing their hands more often than usual for 20 seconds with soap and water, coughing and sneezing into tissues and promoting the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach, cleaning frequently touched surfaces regularly and minimising contact with other people as far as possible.

Local Authorities and PHE have plans in place to support schools in the event of cases among pupils or staff. And with the virus still circulating, following the guidance is vital in helping protect local communities.

Cllr Brown continued: “Reducing the spread of COVID-19 in the community will help prevent cases in schools. That means it is more important than ever that people continue to follow the government’s advice on social distancing, hand hygiene and other infection control measures.

“Anyone who experiences the symptoms of COVID-19 should seek a test.”

If anyone does develop symptoms, which include a new continuous cough, high temperature or loss or change to their sense of taste or smell, they should self-isolate straight away and arrange a COVID-19 test: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/testing-and-tracing/ask-for-a-test-to-check-if-you-have-coronavirus/

For more information and advice on the coronavirus (Covid-19) please visit Public Health England:

https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2020/01/23/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-what-you-need-to-know/ and the NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.