School ski trip to Italy cut short and pupils set to self-isolate
By Matt Hall | 11th March 2020
Pupils from two Gloucestershire secondary schools were taken on a ski-ing trip to Northern Italy last Friday despite the Coronavirus crisis.
Today they are heading home early because of the worsening situation.
Both schools - Henley Bank High in Brockworth, Gloucester, and Five Acres in Coleford, Forest of Dean - are part of the Greenshaw Learning Trust, which runs 17 schools across the UK.
There was surprise last weekend when it was revealed the two schools had gone ahead with the trip to Claviere, bordering the Piedmont Region, despite the extent of coronavirus infection there.
Since the staff and pupils arrived the situation in Italy has worsened considerably and the Government has ordered the lockdown of the whole country.
Yesterday the Greenshaw Trust issued a statement defending its decision to go ahead with the trip but today it has emerged that the trips are being brought to a premature end and the pupils are heading home.
In its statement yesterday the Greenshaw Learning Trust said "The safety and wellbeing of our staff and students is our highest priority.
"We receive, and act on guidance from Public Health England, the Department for Education and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for all of our school trips.
"In line with this advice, students from the Trust's schools have recently been on a ski trip to Claviere in Northern Italy. If any students or parents have concerns, they should contact the school directly."
Both schools have posted identical statements on their Facebook pages overnight saying "As day five progressed and the group skied 650 metres over the border from Claviere in France, the situation within Italy in relation to the Coronavirus has developed significantly and the trip has had to be cut short. Students and staff will begin their return journey by coach first thing tomorrow morning. Full details have been communicated to parents / guardians."
The Italian government has said only those with a valid work or family reason that cannot be postponed will be allowed to travel and it is not yet clear whether the Gloucestershire pupils and teachers will be allowed to leave at the end of the trip.
An added statement on the Five Acres High School website said: "As you would expect, in order to ensure the safety and well-being of the whole school community, we have been following the guidance and advice of the relevant Government agencies and will continue to do so on the return of staff and students.
"This is currently that travellers from Category 1 areas (including Italy) 'should self-isolate, even if asymptomatic, and use the 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do next."
There are currently 350 confirmed cases of Coronavirus in the Piedmont region. Italy is the second-worst hit country in the world after China.
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