Published: 08:00, 01 March 2020
| Updated: 09:17, 02 March 2020
A group of pupils at Kent’s largest secondary school have been asked to stay away from school after returning from a skiing trip to northern Italy.
The group, from Homewood School in Tenterden, returned from a week-long trip on Saturday.
Although none have shown any symptoms of the coronavirus, the school's principal has sent out a message to all parents saying the pupils and staff who accompanied the trip had been asked to stay away until further notice. It is not known exactly how many children were on the trip.
The school had initially told parents those on the trip would not be asked to self-isolate. But in a later message, that position had changed.
Principal Jeremy Single said: “Following numerous communications with colleagues, parents and representatives from Kent County Council, I have taken the decision to ask the staff and students involved in the ski trip to Italy over this past week not to attend school until further notice. This is an additional precaution from the advice given by Public Health England in order to reassure all members of the school community at an uncertain and emotional time. I apologise that this is a change in circumstances, although I am sure you can appreciate my caution in making this decision.”
The message said that the school would closely monitor the situation and would respond appropriately if circumstances changed.
“I appreciate that this is a concerning time given the heightened media attention at present around the virus, but please be assured that we will continue to monitor the situation very closely and will respond accordingly. It is obviously imperative for us to be cautious but to maintain a good sense of perspective at all times.”
The message, posted on the school’s website, says: "Please be reassured that we continue to follow all the advice from the relevant government departments, and, as mentioned above, we are also being advised at a local level by Kent County Council.”
“In the event of a student or member of staff being diagnosed as having the virus, we will, of course, follow advice provided by the local Public Health England Health Protection Team which will be specific to an assessment of our circumstances and setting.”
The skiing trip was in Bormio, outside any of the Italian towns that are effectively in lockdown but in the wider region of Northern Italy where public health officials have said there is a growing number of people who have contracted the virus.
Government advice on what people should do who have returned from trips to affected areas says they should only self isolate if they have any of the symptoms of the virus.
Two teachers at another Kent school are understood to be self-isolating following a stay in northern Italy.
Children at Homewood return tomorrow after the half term break.