Hastings school defends delay in notifying parents of staff member’s Covid-19 case

A Hastings secondary school said it did not notify parents of a staff member testing positive for Covid-19 until almost two weeks later because the employee had not come into ‘close contact’ with students during this time.

Thursday, 12th November 2020, 5:19 pm

Ark Alexandra Academy wrote to parents on Friday (November 6) to tell parents that a staff member had tested positive on October 26, 11 days previously.

The letter, from school principal Liam Collins, came after the member of staff had completed their ten-day isolation period on November 3 and returned to the school on November 4.

Louise Freeman, whose nephew attends the school, responded to Mr Collins’ letter and described the delay in receiving the information as ‘deeply concerning’.

Ark Alexandra Academy. Picture: Google SUS-200123-135557001
Ark Alexandra Academy. Picture: Google SUS-200123-135557001

She said her nephew has a condition which impacts his immune system and her sister cares for her 80-year-old father-in-law. Louise said both people would be ‘particularly vulnerable to the impact of Covid-19’.

In response, a spokesman for Ark Alexandra said the school has ‘consistently followed the government’s Covid-19 guidance’.

They added: “On Monday 26th October, the school was contacted by a staff member who confirmed they had tested positive for COVID-19.

“The government guidance states that schools should contact anyone who has been within close contact if someone has tested positive for COVID-19. As soon as the staff member alerted us to their positive result, the school contacted all staff members who they had been in ‘close contact’ with over the last 48 hours. The staff member was not in ‘close contact’ with students during this time, which is why parents weren’t notified.

“In line with the NHS guidance, the staff member self-isolated for 10 days and returned to school on 4th November.

“The school appreciates these are distressing times, but it is important the children continue to come to school to maintain their learning and routines. Ark Alexandra is committed to the safety and wellbeing of staff and students.”

Earlier this week, Ark Alexandra told parents a student had tested positive for Covid-19.

According to Mr Collins, the year 10 student tested positive on Monday (November 9) but had not been in school since October 23 as ‘they were isolating due to symptoms’.