SCHOOLS whose pupils have recently returned from coronavirus-hit Italy have reassured parents that there is no need for them to close. 

At least three Oxfordshire schools have written to parents responding to concerns, after pupils went on ski trips to northern Italy over the February half term.

Fitzharrys School in Abingdon, Chandlings School near Kennington and Chipping Norton School in West Oxfordshire have all sought advice from Public Health England following the trips.

Several schools nationally - including Burford School in West Oxfordshire - are closed today as a precautionary measure.

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However, the schools named above remain open and have stressed that none of their trips were to any of the Italian areas that are in lockdown.

Chandlings did confirm that it had sent two staff members and four children home yesterday, as a 'precautionary measure', and advised that they should stay at home if they present with any symptoms.

The Oxford Mail understands that this was due to them having very minor cold-like symptoms.

A statement from the school said: "We are following the guidance on health, travel and quarantine which we have received from Public Health England.

"Parents, staff and pupils are having regular updates to ensure that all recommended precautions are in place.

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

Public Health England guidance currently advises people to self-isolate if they have visited northern Italy since February 19, but only if they show symptoms.

For those who have visited any of the areas of Italy in lockdown (which does not apply to any of the three schools), the advice is to self-isolate regardless of if any symptoms are present.

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Parents had also been in touch with Fitzharrys - and the Oxford Mail - sharing concerns about the spread of coronavirus in northern Italy.

A group of students had been on a trip over the February half term to South Tyrol in northeast Italy.

In a letter shared today, the school's 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. 

"Their guidance is that the ski trip was not in the regions specified as concerns.

"They advise that travellers do not need to undertake any special measures, but that if they develop symptoms (see below) they should self-isolate and call NHS 111.

"We do understand that parents and students are concerned.

"We continue to follow official advice and will continue to update parents of any new information or guidance."

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Chipping Norton School also sent out a letter to parents today, acknowledging 'a growing concern (both locally and nationally) with regards to the Coronavirus'.

Headteacher Barry Doherty wrote: "This is an extraordinarily difficult period for many families across the world and this is, of course, heightened by our own fears that the disease may come closer to home.

"Our ski trip party was like thousands of other people around the world and in this country who visited northern Italy last week - but did not visit the eleven affected towns [in quarantine].

"Matt Hancock (Health Secretary) provided advice to all such visitors yesterday and that advice remains the same: life continues as normal unless or until such returning visitors begin to display flu-like symptoms."

He said the school will be monitoring the situation 'day by day' and will update parents accordingly.

Advice from Public Health England

The coronavirus has been spreading since it was first reported in December 2019.

Symptoms  include  fever  and  respiratory  symptoms  including  coughing  and  shortness of breath.

It can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.

If you develop these symptoms and have recently travelled to an area where the coronavirus is being widely reported or believe you may have come in contact with the virus then you should stay indoors and call NHS 111 informing them of the details linking you to the virus.