Devon

West Exe school to close early to clear legionella

Water bottles at West Exe secondary school
Image caption West Exe has been using bottled water since the outbreak occurred

A Devon school is closing early for the summer holidays for work to fix legionella contamination in the water supply.

Children at West Exe secondary have been drinking bottled water since legionella was identified in February.

Devon County Council said the closure on 19 July rather than 23 July would give "as much time as possible without children" to do the work.

Head teacher Vicki Carah said the decision had not been taken lightly.

The school's water system was deep cleaned during the Easter holidays, but tests showed the bacteria was still present.

The school was one of five Exeter schools built under a private finance initiative (PFI) by Carillion between 2004 and 2006.

Ms Carah said in a letter to parents: "I am aware that this may cause some inconvenience and assure you that the decision has not been taken lightly."

She said Carillion had "worked hard" on clearing the system but the infection had "not been resolved".

She said: "The summer holiday offers an opportunity to carry out major works to rectify the problem fully."

Carillion said: "We are continuing to work closely with Devon County Council and West Exe School in order to coordinate and undertake the work necessary to address the issue."

PFI was introduced in the UK in 1992 to allow private companies to finance, build and run public sector projects such as hospitals, schools or prisons.

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