RAINFORD High School has closed for two weeks after 40 students tested positive for coronavirus.

Last week, the Star reported that coronavirus testing would be carried out in Rainford High School for staff and students following several confirmed cases.

St Helens Borough Council confirmed there had been 10 positive cases since the school reopened at the beginning of the month, which have continued in a slow but sustained manner.

Following advice backed by Public Health England, it has been recommended that selected staff and pupils should be tested to get a better picture of the potential spread of the virus, due to a lack of obvious connections between cases.

In a letter to parents today, Rainford principal Ian Young said a "significant minority" of students tested positive while presenting as asymptomatic.

Subsequently, a decision has been taken to close the school until Monday, October 12, with students continuing their learning from home.

Mr Young said: "As you are aware, under the guidance of Public Health England with the support of the St Helens Test and Trace Team, 1,100 members of the school community were tested for Covid 19 on Thursday and Friday last week.

"Unfortunately, a significant minority of students tested positive for coronavirus whilst presenting as asymptomatic.

"This brings the total number of live cases to just below 40.  Indications are that Rainford High is suffering from transmission into the school from the community across all year groups.

"Due to the risk this presents to the school and wider community it has been recommended we close Rainford High with immediate effect and will open on Monday, 12th October, when we hope to resume with a full return to school.

"The school has followed all national guidance and our risk assessments and procedures have been regularly reviewed, and has been working together closely with the local authority health and safety team and Public Health England.

"The school team has worked incredibly hard to ensure a safe environment for our community and have taken a proactive and proportionate approach with Public Health England which led to the unprecedented mass testing of a school community in the North West of England.

"This process has been enlightening and will help us move forward successfully in the future.

"It has highlighted the challenge that asymptomatic transition represents to the day to day operation of schools in the current regional and national context.

"A joint letter form the school, Public Health England and St Helens Council will follow later today explaining the expectations of students and families over this period of remote home learning.

"All of the decisions we have made from the beginning of the pandemic have been focused on the best interests of our school and wider community and they will continue to do so.

"From tomorrow all learning will continue remotely until we return on Monday 12th October.

"The school team will continue to work from the school site during this period to ensure a consistency and quality of the student learning experience for this period of time. 

"A letter explaining in detail how the remote learning will be delivered will follow by 3.30pm today."