Published: 17:33, 20 May 2020
| Updated: 17:15, 26 May 2020
A special needs school has confirmed a pupil and a teaching assistant have tested positive for coronavirus.
Ifield School in Gravesend was not forced to close following the incident but said it had informed all staff, parents and carers of the cases.
It worked closely with Public Health England to make the premises safe and carried out necessary cleaning work in line with its advice immediately following the diagnoses.
Head of School Maddy Jones said: “Unfortunately, two members of our school community tested positive for Covid-19 last week but I am pleased to report that they are both recovering well.
"The safety and well-being of all our pupils and staff is of paramount importance and we have sought and followed guidance from Public Health England’s Kent Health Protection Team in order to keep everyone in the school safe."
Miss Jones added: "We have also reminded our staff and families of the symptoms of the Covid-19 virus, along with the importance of immediately informing a member of our leadership team if anyone in their household experiences any of those symptoms.”
Ifield School says pupils will not be able to come in during the half-term holidays next week while essential maintenance work and safety checks are carried out.
It had planned to conduct these during the Easter holidays but lockdown measures meant this was disrupted.
The special co-educational school serves 246 pupils aged between four and 19 who have profound, severe and complex learning needs and communication and interaction difficulties.
It is unclear how many students would have come into contact with those affected but anyone who did will now have to self-isolate for 14 days, according to public health guidelines.
The government is currently asking schools to allow pupils in certain age groups back again from June 1 as part of a phased return, which has led to a fierce debate, with parents, teachers and politicians on each side of the argument.
However, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said at Saturday's daily briefing the decision was being made "incredibly cautiously" with the "welfare of children at the heart".
Ifield School had sent a survey to parents asking them whether they wanted to send their child back to school on June 1.
It added it was currently undertaking a risk assessment to see whether the school would be the most appropriate place for them.
Matt Dunkley, the corporate director for children, young people and education at Kent County Council, stresses the date of June 1 would be the earliest pupils would return.
He said: "Quite naturally, there are concerns being voiced nationally and locally here in Kent about whether it is safe, or operationally feasible, for schools to admit more pupils from June 1 as the government has requested.
"I would stress that the government has stated that the date to plan for readmitting additional pupils is June 1, at the earliest.
"This caveat indicates that the government will assess nearer this date if it believes the conditions are right to proceed from then, and we do not expect this final confirmation until May 28, in all probability."
In light of this, Ifield School said it was planning to reopen its doors for its most vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers on June 1.
It added it would wait until next week's expected government guidance before deciding whether it would be safe for a phased return of additional pupils from June 8.
More by this authorSean Delaney