THE father of a student at Robert May’s School, in Odiham, has told The Gazette of his unhappiness about the school’s handling of a recently confirmed coronavirus case within the school community.

The parent, who asked not to be named, said yesterday:  “Everyone at the school was made aware yesterday evening in a special bulletin that went out.

“My exact thoughts were that they were being very very blasé about the whole situation.

“It did not mention whether it was a teacher, a member of catering staff, or a pupil.

“I was fuming last night, to be honest.” 

The letter to parents, seen by The Gazette, was sent on the evening of Thursday, September 17 and said: “Dear Parents and Carers, We have been advised by Public Health England [PHE] that there has been a confirmed single case of COVID-19 within the school. 

“We know you may find this concerning. However, please be aware that we are continuing to monitor the situation and are working closely with Public Health England. This letter is to inform you of the current situation and provide advice on how to support your child. Please be reassured that for most people coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild illness.

“The school remains open and your child should continue to attend if they remain well. We would ask you, please, not to speculate about this on social media as this will create further anxiety in our community.”

The letter went on to outline the process parents should follow should their child develop symptoms, and the hygiene advice issued by PHE. 

The parent is worried about the financial implications of the whole family having to isolate, as he is self-employed, as well as his child’s underlying health conditions.

“My kid suffers with asthma and this is the time it gets really bad,” said the father-of-three.

“I need to know if my kid has been around [the person with a positive test]. They say they have a track and trace system in place in the classrooms and stuff, but what about at break times?”

He kept his child off school yesterday, Friday September 18.

He then received an updated bulletin on Friday afternoon, also seen by The Gazette, from head teacher Joanna Collyer West, which provided further information.

This included that the infected person was a member of staff, who had been asymptomatic and had volunteered to be tested as part of an ONS survey. They also had “no close contact with any students and had close contact with two other members of staff who are now isolating.”

It also stated that a full deep-clean of the school had been completed, and outlined the distancing measures in place. 

“We are conscious of the understandable anxieties and concerns that families will have over the risks of Covid-19 spreading, especially to members of the older generation in their households.  We have reflected on the points that parents and carers have made over the initial information that went out last night and we will send this as feedback to PHE so that they can consider revising their official template letter,” it read. 

“Very sadly, this will not be the only time this year that we will be informing parents of a confirmed case, although I wish with all my heart that last night was our only brush with Covid-19.” 

The parent intends to send his child back to school on Monday, but remains unhappy about the school’s initial handling of the situation.

“It came across as though it was not an issue to be concerned about,” he said. 

“I think they need to be more open and honest.”