Swine flu alert teacher sent home

By Jan Shure, May 7, 2009
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A primary school teacher was sent home for seven days after she returned to work from a Mexican holiday.

The reception-class teacher left halfway through the first day of term at Simon Marks Jewish Primary in Stamford Hill, north London, after telling colleagues she had been to Mexico.

Peter Kessler, chair of governors, said she came to school unaware of the swine flu outbreak.

“The head decided, in conjunction with me, that the most sensible action would be to send her home immediately and ask her to seek advice from her GP. She did so, and it was decided she would remain off work for seven days, as a precaution.”

The teacher did not develop symptoms and returned to work this week. Mr Kessler said they did not advertise her absence “although we did not conceal the news from those who asked”.

But the mother of a pupil, who is suffering “flu-like symptoms”, said the response when she phoned to tell the school her daughter was ill was “just that they wished her better”. She added: “I only know about it because another parent told me. It is not a very well-thought-out approach.”

Pupils at a girls’ school which has been closed due to swine flu, may suffer disruption to exams.

South Hampstead High, in north-west London has been closed since last Friday when a 15-year-old pupil was found to have the virus.

The 640-pupil private school has cancelled a number of extra-curricular activities. Half the pupils are thought to be Jewish. Head teacher Jenny Stephens wrote on the website that “special arrangements” were being made to accommodate GCSE and A-level exams.

A spokesperson said the school was waiting to hear from the Health Protection Agency about whether exams, due to begin next week, will go ahead.

The pupil lives in Barnet. She is understood to have been in contact with someone who visited Mexico recently. She is understood to have recovered. Pupils in her year have been treated with anti-viral drugs.

The Joint Council for Qualifications, which represents exam boards, said they were working “to ensure contingency plans are in place in the event of disruption to the exam system”.

JCQ organisations will meet next week to ensure they “are ready to take co-ordinated action if necessary”.

South Hampstead High regularly appears at the top of the A-level league tables, with 93 percent of all A-levels at A and B grades in 2008.

    Last updated: 2:39pm, November 23 2010