Principal reassures parents after Exmouth college student tests positive for coronavirus

An Exmouth Community College student has tested positive for coronavirus, and their classmates and teachers told to stay at home.

College principal Andrew Davis alerted parents and carers by writing on the school’s website today, July 3, saying the student tested positive for COVID-19 after going to hospital for an unrelated injury.

Mr Davis said the student’s tutors and classmates had all been contacted and asked not to attend Exmouth Community College as a precaution until Public Health England (PHE) advises the next steps.

The college said it had contacted PHE as soon as it had been made aware of the test result.

The principal said the student had been into college twice towards the end of June, once for a face-to-face socially-distanced classroom session with other students and a tutor, and again for a one-to-one meeting with a member of staff.

The college said there had been no other opportunity for the student to mix with other pupils while on the Exmouth campus, other than their classmates.

Mr Davis said the student was asymptomatic and had not shown any symptoms associated with coronavirus that would have led to them being told to stay away.

Writing to parents and carers, Mr Davis said: “The person concerned was an older student who had last attended college for a face-to-face session on Thursday 25th June.

“The teacher concerned, who maintained social distancing throughout the lesson by teaching from the front, and students, whose entry was managed by a member of staff to keep them two metres apart and sat at desks two metres apart, have all been contacted and asked not to attend college today as a precaution.

“It is our understanding that the student presented as asymptomatic and so there are no reports of, for example, coughing, which would have led to their removal from the session.”

He added: “The student also came into college on Tuesday 30th June for a socially distanced one-to-one session with a member of staff.

“These meetings take place in a large ventilated classroom with individual students allocated clean desks for each meeting.

“The member of staff has also been contacted and asked to not attend college until we receive further advice.

“For one-to-one meetings students are collected by staff from different entrances depending on the year group and walked off site at the end of the meeting.

“As the student was the last one-to-one meeting of the day no other students in the one-to-one sessions on that day will have been affected.”

The sessions for Year 10, Year 12, Key Stage 3 and Year 10 one-to-one meetings and keyworker/priority student sessions all take place in different areas of the college with students barred from going from one area to another.

Mr Davis said: “There was no opportunity for this student, while in college, to mix with other students apart from those who he was taught with who, as I say, have all now been contacted.

“As soon as we were made aware of the test result, we contacted Public Health England.

“Depending on the circumstances of when the infectious period was, we may then be advised that no action is required if they have not been onsite during the infectious period or alternatively children may have to remain at home and isolated.

“We are currently waiting for advice for Public Health England and have been advised that this could take up to 48 hours.

“While we await that advice and, at the risk of being overcautious, we have contacted all the students in the same class and anyone else who we think might have had any indirect contact with the student as a precaution to ask them to remain at home for now.”

The principal said the college has been following a number of measures to safeguard students and staff, and stop the spread of the virus.

These include staggered starts, regular handwashing, supervised staggered breaks and lunches, one-way systems, areas for different groups to socialise, and regular cleaning of equipment – such as chairs, tables, PE kit, keyboards – between each student use, well-ventilated rooms, and small student groups.

The college said Year 10 and 12 teaching groups were by invite only so that groupings could be managed, students were supervised by staff between lessons to maintain social distancing as far as possible, and staff and students were briefed each day at the start of the sessions to remind them about the importance of the safety measures in place.

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