Covid-19: St Albans school closes after staff and pupils test positive

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Townsend Church of England School said 15 staff were absent due to Covid-19

A state secondary school has closed for at least a week after five members of staff and 12 pupils tested positive for coronavirus.

Townsend Church of England School in St Albans, Hertfordshire, said it had an attendance rate of under 40% on Tuesday before it shut, due to self-isolating.

A total of 15 staff were absent because of positive tests or self-isolation.

In a letter to parents, the school said it had "no option but to close" for an initial period of a week.

The latest official figures for overall attendance in England show 22% of pupils in secondary schools were absent last Thursday.

This was the same as the previous week, when figures also showed 75% of schools had sent some pupils home.

Townsend said pupils would learn at home "while we further assess the infection" and sought advice from Hertfordshire County Council and Public Health England.

The 682-pupil school said on Tuesday that five students in Year 11, two in Year 10, one in Year 9, and four in Year 7 tested positive for Covid-19 "with others being notified to us as every hour passes".

"We have not taken this decision [to close] lightly," it added.

The school said families who receive free school meals would be able to collect frozen meals from the Hertfordshire catering service.

The Covid-19 case rate in the St Albans district in the week to 27 November was 107 cases per 100,000, which had fallen week on week and was below the England-wide average.

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