Published: 11:12, 25 September 2020
| Updated: 12:48, 25 September 2020
An exclusive girls' boarding school has been hit by 13 confirmed cases of Covid-19 this term.
The outbreak centres on two houses at Benenden School, near Cranbrook , which have accounted for 12 of the positive results for the coronavirus identified by in-house testing.
As a precaution around 140 girls at the school, which charges fees of £13,124 per term, have been told to isolate for 14 days.
The majority of the children affected have remained on site, in their boarding houses, where they are separated from other year groups and have been able to continue with their learning.
Benenden is one of the few schools in the county to possess its own Covid-19 testing equipment, which it says has allowed it to identify and tackle the outbreak swiftly.
"In common with many schools, at Benenden we are unfortunately dealing with some cases of coronavirus in school," a spokesman said.
"Since the start of term 13 girls have tested positive for the virus and they are now recovering either at home or in our medical centre here on site.
"We have taken extensive measures to keep the girls and staff safe..."
"Two boarding houses have accounted for 12 of these cases and we have been able to restrict any further spread of the virus through our procedures of separate year group bubbles and our internal track and trace system to identify any close contacts of positive cases.
"Following consultation with Public Heath England, approximately 140 girls are nearing the end of their 14-day precautionary isolation period, during which time all their lessons have been continuing remotely as well as many of their co-curricular activities."
The school's SAMBA II testing device can produce results in around 90 minutes and Benenden’s machine is also being used by two other schools, the John Wallis Church of England Academy in Ashford and Benenden Primary School.
In all Benenden has around 550 girls on its school roll, although around 50 overseas pupils are currently studying remotely.
Announcing the acquisition of the testing equipment, headmistress Samantha Price said: "As a boarding school, we have taken extensive measures to keep the girls and staff safe and having this device at school is an important part of our pandemic response.
"We are delighted to be able to help two other local schools by making this device available for their staff to operate too.
"We are of course all reopening in incredibly uncertain times but we are all as prepared as we possibly can be - and this device will give added peace of mind to families."