Published: 14:37, 20 September 2019
| Updated: 16:28, 20 September 2019
A sickness bug is sweeping through a Kent primary school where more than half of all pupils are absent.
Parents have criticised Smarden Primary School for failing to shut down, saying more children fell ill every day this week.
The school says 65 of its 120 pupils are off today, although could not confirm whether this is because they have the illness or because some parents are keeping them at home as a precautionary measure.
Despite criticism, the school says it has followed strict guidelines from Public Health England and carried out a deep clean, as well as providing guidelines for parents.
One father, a 41-year-old company director, claimed: "On Wednesday, 25 children were sick at drop off, by pick-up time this number got to 40."
He said that parents had uncovered the extent of the bug by messaging each other on social media network.
Some parents have also kept their children out of the Pluckley Road school to avoid them becoming ill.
The concerned dad added: "There has been a lot of pressure from parents to shut the school down. They are are up in arms demanding the school be deep cleaned and closed until next week, allowing time for sick people to recover.
He accused the school of "burying its head in the sand" instead of dealing with the issue.
Smarden Primary School is run by The Kemnal Academies Trust (TKAT).
Head teacher Claudia Miller said: “On Wednesday morning we alerted parents of an outbreak of Gastroenteritis in our school. We immediately notified Public Health and have followed their strict guidelines in order to limit the spread of the virus.
"This included a deep clean of the school and provided guidelines for parents to follow at home.
"We take the safety and health of our students very seriously and are committed to ensuring there are processes in place so we can react swiftly.
"Public Health is satisfied with the response of the school and we will continue to monitor the situation and liaise with Public Health.”
The school has not confirmed the numbers affected by the bug.
Public Health England (PHE) said it had been made aware that a number of pupils at Smarden Primary School have been suffering with diarrhoea and vomiting.
PHE has provided advice to the school and letters have been sent to parents including advice on how to manage the symptoms and prevent further spread of the illness.
Dr Maha O’Saeed, public health consultant at Public Health England South East, said: “To help prevent further cases parents should keep children with diarrhoea or vomiting off school for at least 48 hours after their last symptoms.
"The school is managing the situation and all necessary infection control measures are in place. PHE continues to monitor the situation and will support the school as required.”
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