Complacency among students has been put forward as a possible reason behind the coronavirus outbreak at Wilkes Academy.

As of Wednesday, October 22, 85 students and staff members had tested positive for the virus. The majority of cases are understood to be students. The academy offers a three year full-time vocational course for students aged 16 to 19.

Education manager Sarah Mills-White said the college had brought in private covid tests as part of efforts to prevent the spread of the virus. Students had been asked to contribute towards the cost of those tests.

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Wilkes Academy, west Swindon Picture: DAVE COX

She told the BBC: “I think what’s just happened over the last maybe couple of weeks is complacency has potentially set in with a few students. But because they live in big groups together in houses all around Swindon it is very, very hard once one student gets it to stop that spread and we knew that was a risk we may have to deal with.”

READ MORE: Academy outbreak linked to what students doing outside college

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Ms Mills-White added: “[Our] students live together, they reside, they work, they socialise together and one case has led to a quick accumulation of cases within our student group and across all three years.

“Obviously, we’ve reminded students over the time of the national and local guidance and what to do outside of college, but as an institution with all the controls within the institution it is very, very hard for us to have the same control outside in their social lives.”