Covid outbreak at Herefordshire school ‘on a different scale’

A HEREFORDSHIRE secondary school is dealing with a coronavirus outbreak it says is “on a different scale” to anything it has seen previously.

Wigmore School, in north Herefordshire, said year 10 pupils had been testing positive for Covid-19, with a mobile testing unit being brought onto the school site to find out if any more students have the virus.

On Monday, headteacher Rob Patterson said eight year 10 students had tested positive, but then on Tuesday, he confirmed another “small number” of cases had been found.

In the letter to parents, Mr Patterson said: “It is clear now that the outbreak of Covid-19 at Wigmore High School last week was on a different scale to those we have previously dealt with.

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“Whether this is because it is the more contagious Delta variant, or because there existed asymptomatic spread at the start of the week is hard to say, but we now have nine cases in total who have tested positive via PCR or lateral flow test.

“Eight of these cases are related to year 10 and can be linked to the first and second positive cases, identified last week. However, we now have one case in year eight where we can see no such link.”

The case in year 8, which was found with a rapid lateral flow test, was confirmed on Tuesday after a PCR test, one which is processed by a laboratory.

It meant all close contacts were told to self-isolate, with year 10 already sent home.

“Nationally we are seeing huge rises in cases, associated with the relaxation of Covid restrictions and (dare I say it) the return of large crowds at events,” Mr Patterson added.

“Government has already signalled that they expect numbers to rise further in coming weeks and data for Herefordshire shows that this is already happening.

“Thankfully for schools, we now have revised guidance going forward from the Department for Education which will remove the burden on schools and families associated with mass self-isolation in the new academic year, but whilst current rules are in place we, like schools up and down the country, are dealing with massive disruption to learning.”

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Sending his best wishes to “everyone at Wigmore School affected by this outbreak”, Mr Patterson added that many students only had mild symptoms.

On Tuesday, he confirmed a mobile testing unit would be sent to the school, which has around 450 pupils on roll, for those who were isolating.

“As we have now had a number of cases and in more than one-year group, we have been back in touch with Public Health England and they have agreed to send a mobile testing centre onto school site later this week,” he said.

“This will provide PCR tests for any student that we have sent home to self-isolate.”

Hereford Times