A nursery school in the U.K. is remaining open after 23 students, staff members and family members with ties to the school tested positive for COVID-19.
The Acorn nursery at Westcroft in Milton Keynes, a city about 50 miles northwest of London, says it can safely stay open due to a “bubble” system that keeps groups of children and teachers separate from one another.
“The nursery has been operating within four ‘bubbles,’ and the number of individual children in these bubbles ranges between 8 and 16,” a spokesperson for the nursery’s parent organization, the Acorn Early Years Foundation, explained to TODAY Health in an email. “These ‘bubbles’ essentially work as a protective measure to help reduce potential transmission by keeping the same children and employees together at all time, with no cross over into other ‘bubbles.’”
Children and staff members who are not part of “bubbles” that included people who tested positive for the virus can continue going to the school without fear of cross-exposure, the nursery said.
Meanwhile, people in “bubbles” that did contain positive COVID-19 cases have all been self-isolating.
The nursery added that it has been following government health guidelines and has been working closely with Public Health England, an agency within the U.K.’s Department of Health and Social Care, to ensure that all students, staff members and connected family members remain safe.
“Following government guidance, the bubbles of children and staff that may have had exposure to a confirmed case have been closed but a full closure of the nursery is not required,” a spokesperson for PHE told TODAY Health in a statement. “There are no public health concerns in relation to the COVID control measures in place at the nursery.”
PHE is also offering testing to all staff and children at the school as a precaution.
This wider testing will “provide our families with peace of mind,” said Zoe Raven, CEO of the Acorn Early Years Foundation, in a statement to TODAY Health.
“This is obviously a very worrying time for everyone concerned, but we’ve worked very hard to speak to each of the families at Westcroft individually in order to answer their queries and concerns,” Raven added.
Throughout the pandemic, the U.K. has seen the highest number of COVID-19 deaths of any European country, with more than 43,000 deaths reported as of June 26, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
The number of reported COVID-19 deaths has fallen steadily in the U.K. since April. On June 25, 149 deaths were reported in the U.K., down from a peak of 1,173 deaths reported on April 21, according to government health data.