Romford school forced to shut after Covid outbreak

A Romford girls’ school has been forced to shut down for three days after an outbreak of coronavirus.

At least three members of staff at The Frances Bardsley Academy for Girls in Brentwood Road tested positive for the virus, while others are still awaiting results.

The school has been shut for three days, from Wednesday September 23 to allow for a deep clean to reduce the risk of any further spread.

At a meeting of Havering Council’s health and wellbeing board on September 23, the borough’s director of public health Mark Ansell said there is a “steady stream” of outbreaks in schools.

A letter sent to parents by the school on September 22 reads: “This decision has been made with the health and well-being of our students, staff and wider school community at its heart.

“This is not an easy decision to make and we know that you may well find it worrying. Please be reassured that for most people, coronavirus will be a mild illness and we feel that students are at very low risk.

“We fully appreciate that this will add to the time students have missed from being in school last term and the short closure will cause inconvenience for a number of our families and for this we are very sorry.”

The school’s more than 1,000 pupils are being taught remotely using Zoom while unable to attend in person.

In addition to teachers awaiting results, the letter adds there are “a significant number of staff members who for various reasons are self-isolating”.

The school will reopen on Monday (September 28) with “additional measures to reduce the risk of infection”.

During the health and wellbeing board meeting, Dr Ansell said: “We are having a steady stream of outbreaks in schools, some of them quite significant.

“It’s inevitably going to get into the vulnerable sections of the community unless we can control it this time.

“We are trying to open additional testing sites but obviously it’s a national system and the bottleneck is currently in the lab.”

He added that seven of the borough’s care homes are currently experiencing outbreaks of the virus, compared to “one or two at worst” during summer.

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Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter