Common SARS policy for schools urgently needed

April 24, 2003

The Government should urgently develop a common SARS policy for UK boarding schools, according to a letter in this week's BMJ.

Current school policies on SARS are confusing, writes Ian Wong at the University of London School of Pharmacy. Some Chinese students are subjected to quarantine imposed by their schools, while one school is reported to be excluding students returning from certain parts of the Far East after Easter.

Yet the Health Protection Agency states that there is no need for students returning from areas affected by SARS to be excluded or quarantined unless they are unwell.

The author identified SARS policies in 10 UK boarding schools. Five schools followed the Health Protection Agency's recommendation, and four stated that up to 10 day's quarantine was required. One school advised students "not to return for the summer term until such a time that the school is satisfied that the virus is understood, contained, and an appropriate treatment is available."

The author urges the Department for Education and Skills and the Department of Health to work together in this matter urgently and develop a common policy for schools. This will assist schools in making rational decisions and more importantly address the fear of parents and children.


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