Pupils urged to return to school despite outbreak

A SCHOOL has told parents not to keep their children at home despite an outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease.

Mums and dads of youngsters at Highfield Junior School were given letters earlier this week warning them of the infection and telling them how best to prevent it spreading. Only one child has contracted hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) so far, but staff are not taking any chances and the school decided to inform parents in an effort to nip any potential spread in the bud.

Headteacher Karen Bye told the Herald, “We are taking precautions and have started additional cleaning, including all door handles, and making sure pupils wash their hands regularly.

“We are following the advice given to us by the Health Agency and have sent out information to all our parents telling them what to do, which is basically follow good hygiene.

“I think part of the problem is that people think it is foot and mouth. It isn’t. It is hand, foot and mouth and just one child has caught it, who is recovering well. The advice is that people should not be kept off and should be at school.”

HFMD is not usually life-threatening but can cause painful mouth ulcers, spots and a fever. Symptoms typically last for about a week and in a small number of cases the virus can affect the heart, lung or brain, although this is rare. One worried parent who contacted the Herald but did not want to be named was concerned that pupils were still expected to go to school despite the risk.

She said, “My daughter is upstairs taking a shower and I have been cleaning all her clothes. It is a bit frightening - it could spread.”

The concerned mum said she was unsure about whether or not to send her child to school, but Highfield confirmed on Wednesday that attendance was at normal levels despite all parents having received the letter.

“There are only a few days left of term,” she continued, “to me it would have made more sense just to keep the kids at home.”

David Zwirek, a spokesman for East Sussex County Council, said the school was doing everything properly in ordering a deep clean and said the authority would actively discourage parents from keeping their children at home.