Sunday, 29 Nov 2020

More than 300 pupils self-isolate after student catches Covid at 'illegal rave'

An entire year group has been told to self isolate at a school after some pupils attended an ‘illegal rave’ and played football during lockdown. 

More than 300 students at Winterbourne High School in Bristol are currently off due to at least three confirmed coronavirus cases. 

All of year 10 are self-isolating after two members of the year group tested positive. Around half a dozen pupils in every other year group are also off.

A source close to the school, which has around 1,800 pupils, said: ‘Groups in year 11 are self-isolating due to mixing at a football training session.

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‘The person who tested positive in Year 11 went to an illegal field rave with 70-plus other pupils outside of school, hugging and drinking with other pupils.’

The Olympus Academy Trust, which runs Winterbourne Academy, says the football training and rave were not at the school.

Its CEO Dave Baker said: ‘The mixed age football training and the illegal rave mentioned in the complaint are nothing to do with the school but the school has had to deal with the fallout from the irresponsible behaviour of others.’

A total of 17 pupils and four staff members at Winterbourne have tested positive since September.

‘For the vast majority of those cases, it is clear that transmission had nothing to do with school,’ Mr Baker added.

The trust, which runs eight other South Gloucestershire schools, reported concerns in September over Covid-denying parents not wearing masks at pick-up and drop-off times.

Mr Baker said: ‘It is regrettable that the whole of Year 10 has had to self-isolate but the increase in positive test numbers in schools across the trust in recent weeks reflects the increase in the wider community so it is inevitable that we are going to see whole bubbles having to self-isolate.

‘There are robust arrangements in place to ensure both staff and student safety are the highest priority, including high levels of segregation within school for the year group bubbles.

‘The integrity of the bubbles in school is high priority and they do not mix – our policy has been in place for face masks to be worn by all in communal spaces since the start of September as an additional layer of protection.

‘The senior leadership team at Winterbourne have acted with integrity throughout the challenges of recent weeks and have worked closely with the trust’s executive leadership team, as well as acting on advice from public health colleagues and the Department for Education.’

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