south London school has sent reception classes home until the end of term after a child came into contact with a Monkeypox case sparking fears of an outbreak, according to a letter to parents seen by the Standard.
Grand Avenue Primary and Nursery School in Surbiton, south London told parents that there was “extremely low risk to our community” after the close contact, but as a precaution they were closing reception classes until the end of term – two weeks away.
It read: “The whole of the Reception team and the School leadership are devastated that the end of this academic year is having to finish this way for the children.”
The school apologized for “the short notice” but said they were acting on advice from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and are “obliged to follow these precautionary guidelines.”
Authorities advised parents to avoid very close contact with their child, including hugging with friends and family. Children would be offered the Monkeypox vaccine. They also advised parents to postpone any non-urgent medical appointments for their child and to monitor their child for any symptoms until July 28.
“These measures are precautionary but are important for the health and safety of your child and family, the wider school community, and anyone else that your child may have contact with, even if the risk is low,” they wrote.
A receptionist at Grand Avenue Primary and Nursery School refused to comment when approached by the Standard.
Other classes are believed to be continuing as normal.
One parent told the Standard: “I’m not concerned about the children getting Monkeypox as I understand there is a low risk of them being seriously ill but I am concerned for the reception children that they are losing out on the last couple of weeks of school. I’m also concerned that other classes may shut.”
On July 3, Thorn Grove Primary School, in Stockport sent pupils home for three weeks after a member of the school community tested positive for the virus.
Louise Bishop, Consultant in Health Protection at the UK Health Security Agency, London, said: “We’re working with Kingston Council to provide public health advice to Grand Avenue Primary and Nursery School following a confirmed case of monkeypox in the school community.
“When cases of monkeypox are identified we rapidly investigate and carry out detailed contact tracing to assess who may have come into contact with them and what their contact was.
“Following our risk assessment, the appropriate health information and advice is provided to the contacts so that they know symptoms to look out for and what action to take eg vaccination.
“Any parents concerned about unusual rashes or blisters on any part of their child’s body should contact NHS 111, whilst adults can contact NHS111 or their local sexual health service. Both adults and children should avoid contact with others until they receive advice.”
It comes as more than 1,700 cases of monkeypox have now been recorded in the UK, with 75 per cent of cases in London.
Last week charities warned monkeypox could become endemic in Britain without more action from the Government.
The department for health said on Tuesday the outbreak has mainly been in gay, bisexual, and men who have sex with other men “without documented history of travel to endemic countries”.
The NHS is continuing to warn people to look out for aches, a fever and swollen glands as possible signs of monkeypox.
Anyone with symptoms is advised to avoid close contact with others and call NHS 111.