Northumberland County Council has confirmed to the Gazette that schools in the county remain open today – Friday, March 13 – and will continue to operate as normal until further notice.
It comes as many parents in the county raised concerns that schools should follow the precedent set by other countries in Europe, which have closed educational establishments during the coronavirus outbreak.
But in a speech made on Thursday, March 12, Prime Minister Boris Johnson reassured the public that schools will remain open.
He added that school trips abroad should be stopped, and that the tactic may change at some point.
In future, anybody living with someone who is taken ill will also be told to self-isolate for seven days.
Typical symptoms of coronavirus include fever and a cough that may progress to a severe pneumonia causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
Generally, coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes and chronic lung disease.
Anyone with the above symptoms is urged to use the 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do next, but should not visit a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
Members of the public are asked to call 111 if they need to speak to someone.
The Government has issued a programme of advice for schools on how to operate during the coronavirus outbreak.
What to do if children, pupils, students or staff become unwell and believe they have been exposed to COVID-19
Call NHS 111, or 999 in an emergency and if appropriate, explain which country they have returned from in the last 14 days.
People who become unwell should be advised not to go to their GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital.
Whilst you wait for advice from NHS 111 or an ambulance to arrive, try to find somewhere safe for the unwell person to sit which is at least two metres away from other people.
Find a room or area where they can be isolated behind a shut door, such as a staff office or meeting room.
They should avoid touching people, surfaces and objects and be advised to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when they cough or sneeze and put the tissue in the bin.
The room will need to be cleaned once they leave.
If they need to go to the bathroom whilst waiting for medical assistance, they should use a separate bathroom if available.
Make sure that children and young people know to tell a member of staff if they feel unwell.
What to do if a case of COVID-19 (pupil, student or staff) is suspected in your school
If anyone has been in contact with a suspected case, no restrictions or special control measures are required while laboratory test results for COVID-19 are awaited.
There is no need to close the school or send other learners or staff home.
As a precautionary measure, the NHS is currently testing a very large number of people who have travelled back from affected countries, the vast majority of whom tested negative.
Until the outcome of test results is known there is no action that staff members need to take apart from cleaning specific areas and disposing of waste.
Once the results arrive, those who test negative for COVID-19 will be advised individually about returning to education.
What to do if a case of COVID-19 (pupil, student or staff) is confirmed in your school
The school will be contacted by the local Public Health England Health Protection Team to discuss the case, identify people who have been in contact with them and advise on any actions or precautions that should be taken.
An assessment will be undertaken by the Health Protection Team with relevant staff.
Advice on the management of pupils or students and staff will be based on this assessment.
The Health Protection Team will also be in contact with the patient directly to advise on isolation and identifying other contacts, and will be in touch with any contacts of the patient to provide them with appropriate advice.
If there is a confirmed case, a risk assessment will be undertaken by the educational establishment with advice from the local Health Protection Team.
In most cases, closure of the childcare or education setting will be unnecessary but this will be a local decision based on various factors such as establishment size and pupil mixing.