A PURBECK primary school has been forced to close after a member of staff tested positive for Covid-19.

The single staff member of St Marks CE Primary School, Swanage, tested positive after being on the school premises at the end of last week.

However, after consulting with Public Health England (PHE) South West, several other staff members – the "vast majority" of the school staff according to health chiefs, were asked to self isolate for 14 days.

The school says because it is small, with around 150 pupils, they have no option than to close for the isolation period.

Public health bosses have stressed that no children have been exposed to or have come into contact with the staff member with the confirmed case.

St Marks closed with immediate effect earlier today and is not expected to reopen until Monday, September 21.

Headteacher Sally Craig said: “We have written to the parents and carers of our pupils advising of a school closure for 14 days.

"This is after one of our members of staff tested positive for Covid-19.

“I would like to reassure our parents we have been working closely with PHE and Dorset Council to make sure this is managed appropriately and the school will be ready to reopen soon.

"We will be making arrangements so pupils can carry out work at home so that they can continue their learning.”

Meanwhile, Sam Crowe, director of public health for Dorset and BCP Council, said “Public Health England and the school have completed a risk assessment, and we are taking all necessary measures to make sure we minimise the risk of any transmission in the school.

“The school has been working closely with PHE and ourselves and this is being managed appropriately.

"We will support the school as they provide home learning to the pupils and we will continue to provide advice and guidance to ensure high standards of hygiene and social distancing are maintained.

“It is important everyone self-isolating adheres to the government guidance; if they don’t have symptoms they do not need to get a test.

"However if a member of their household has symptoms and takes a test then they should self-isolate.

“I would like to remind all our schools and the wider community that the best way to prevent the spread of the virus is to regularly wash your hands, maintain social distancing and to continue to stay at home as much as possible.

“If you do start to develop coronavirus symptoms, such as a new continuous cough, a high temperature or a loss or change to your sense of taste or smell, please self-isolate and book a test.

“We would like to reassure people living and working in Dorset that while we do expect to see more cases in the weeks and months ahead, we have robust mechanisms in place to contain the infection and protect the health of the local community.”

The school will be working closely with Dorset Council and PHE to ensure high standards of hygiene and social distancing are met.

Deputy director for health protection at Public Health England South West, Mike Wade, said: “PHE South West is working closely with the school to provide public health advice to stop the virus spreading.

“Everyone should be following social distancing advice to prevent the spread of the virus in schools.

“Good hygiene is the best prevention and there are some simple steps you can take to protect you, your family and colleagues by washing your hands regularly and thoroughly and if you cough, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue.”