A PRINCIPAL has said he is confident measures taken after a Covid-19 outbreak at his school will ‘halt the chain of infection.’
It was confirmed on Monday that 53 Sedbergh School pupils had so far tested positive for Covid-19 over the weekend, and that mobile testing units would be testing all pupils and staff on Tuesday and Wednesday in an attempt to catch the spread.
Sedbergh School’s Principal Andrew Fleck said: “Everything is progressing as planned, but we have no results back yet.”
Mr Fleck said it would be unhelpful to speculate as to how the virus first entered the school but said he was confident the school’s actions would be able to limit the spread.
“We are very confident,” he said.
“We have acted quickly and we have been so well supported by public health officials and Sedbergh Medical Practice.
“And in testing the whole school and isolating accordingly we are following best practice that will halt the chain of infection.”
According to the principal pupils are ‘frustrated’ but understand the need for measures.
“They are frustrated because most of them are either well or asymptomatic,” said Mr Fleck.
“They want to get on with their lives just like we all do, they want to get on with their studies, they want to socialise with their friends.
“I think it’s very tough for them but they know we’re doing the right thing and they’re appreciative of their teachers’ work and effort.
“So as a community we are pretty positive.”
Meanwhile, the school has been praised for how they have managed the outbreak, with Chair of Sedbergh Parish Council, Kevin Lancaster, saying he doubted ‘anyone could have done better.’
“I have the highest praise for everything the staff and senior management have done in an extraordinarily difficult situation,” he said.
“I doubt anyone could have done more or be better prepared.”
However, on Monday Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron, alongside local Liberal Democrat councillors Nick Cotton, Suzie Pye and Ian Mitchell, called for testing to be rolled out to everyone in Sedbergh, amid fears of the virus’ reach in the town.
“I want to pay tribute to how the school has responded to this situation and the measures they’ve taken to help isolate any pupil that receives a positive test and therefore helping to protect our community,” she said.
Cllr Lancaster did not believe mass testing was currently necessary but said if medical opinion changed it would have the parish council’s full support.
“I can’t see how it would be helpful for Sedbergh Medical Practice to be suddenly inundated with one or two thousand people being tested,” he said.
Cumbria’s Director of Public Health Colin Cox responded to the calls for mass testing, saying that based on current evidence it was ‘not warranted.’
He said: “We considered this request carefully but based on the evidence we currently have, mass testing of the whole local population is not warranted.
“We are continuing to work closely with the school to support their management of the outbreak and the situation remains under review.
“People living locally should continue to follow the standard advice; if they develop symptoms then self-isolate and get tested, if they test is positive then continue the self-isolation for the required period.”