A SCHOOL in West Oxfordshire has been 'evacuated' over coronavirus fears after a student who came back from Italy reported feeling unwell.

An email seen by the Oxford Mail, which was sent to parents this afternoon, said Burford School would remain closed until Monday for a 'deep clean'.

AS IT HAPPENED: Read our live blog here as school shuts down for deep clean

It stated a student at the secondary school had spent half term in Italy in an 'affected but not quarantined' area and had reported feeling 'slightly unwell' on Tuesday.

The message, which was sent to parents just after 1pm, said: "The student is not currently in school and as a precaution, and following advice from Public Health England, the student has self-isolated."

It added: "As a result of this the school has made the decision to close, this will allow us to undergo a 'deep clean; and sanitation of the entire school. 

"This decision has been made to ensure the ongoing safety of all students, staff, parents and families."

Oxford Mail:

A sixth form student who was there when the announcement was made said it had come ‘out of the blue’ and initially all students had been told was to leave their lessons and go back to their form rooms to wait for more information.

The pupil, who did not want to named, said: “No one had any idea what it was about. We were just waiting for an email to our teachers to find out what was going on.

ALSO READ: Three schools write to parents about coronavirus after Italy trips

“Other students in the younger years were panicking and some people joked it was about coronavirus, which it did turn out to be.”

The Year 13 pupil said it was concerning that the school had to be closed and it could have a ‘massive effect’ if the student tested positive for the virus.

She said: “The person was in yesterday so we have no idea where they went, what classrooms they were in.

“It’s not just who they interacted with but teachers here have children at other schools as well.”

A parent, who did not want to named, said her 16-year-old was also among those sent home.

Oxford Mail:

Speaking to the paper this afternoon, she said: "I've had her strip her uniform and she is having a shower now. We'll have to do her school bag as well.

"What is so concerning is we have no idea who the student is, what year they are in and who they may have come into contact with."

The mum added: "I've got a five-year-old who is asthmatic so if there is a chance of it spreading that is very worrying."

"We got the message at 1.04pm and by the time I got there at 1.30pm all the students had been evacuated and were on buses. It had clearly been well planned."

Burford School's headteacher Kathy Haig, in a statement confirmed the student had been in school earlier this week.

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She wrote: "As the student had no symptoms earlier in the week and was therefore in school, we have decided to take the precautionary measure of having the whole school deep cleaned.

"Due to the size of our school we will need to close from 1.10pm today and will re-open on Monday, March 2."

She added: "Whilst we hope that a case of Covid-19 is not confirmed and the risk to others is minimal, we feel it advisable to take these measures."

There have also been concerns over multiple schools in the county which took pupils to Italy on ski trips over the half term break, including Fitzharrys and Chandlings, both in Abingdon.

Fitzharrys has reassured parents that there is no need for it to shut.

In a letter headteacher Jonathan Dennett  advised: "We have contacted Public Health England to seek their advice regarding the risk of the coronavirus, in particular following the ski trip over half term.

ALSO READ: Coronavirus isolation pods set up at hospitals

"Their guidance is that the ski trip was not in the regions specified as concerns."
The school has, however, advised pupils to self-isolate if they develop any symptoms relating to coronavirus.

Chandlings School said parents, staff and pupils were having 'regular updates' to ensure that all recommended precautions are in place.  

A statement added: "The health and wellbeing of our pupils is of paramount importance and we are continually monitoring the situation as it is so fluid."

Parts of Lombardy and Veneto in Italy are currently on lockdown, with authorities  confirming more than 300 cases and 12 deaths in the country.

For other parts of northern Italy, anywhere north of Pisa, Florence and Rimini, Public Health England advice is: "If you have returned from these areas since February 19 and develop symptoms, however mild, you should stay indoors at home and avoid contact with other people immediately and call NHS 111. 

"You do not need to follow this advice if you have no symptoms."