Derry primary school with suspected case of COVID-19 has closure request rejected by Department of Education

A primary school in Derry with a suspected case of Coronavirus COVID-19 has been denied a request to close by the Department of Education (DoE).
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Ebrington Primary School and Nursery on Limavady Road published a letter on the school website explaining the details of what happened and why their request to close was rejected by the DoE.

School Principal, Brian Guthrie, explained the school had been made aware of a suspected case of COVID-19 in one of the pupils at the school.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The child displayed no symptoms but did however become unwell over the weekend.

Education Minister and DUP MLA, Peter Weir.Education Minister and DUP MLA, Peter Weir.
Education Minister and DUP MLA, Peter Weir.

Mr. Guthrie said the parents contacted the official 111 number and have followed all advice and guidelines.

As a result of a measures announced by the government at the beginning of this week, the child will not be tested unless admitted to hospital.

"School cleaning staff have continued to carry out a more thorough clean within school since Monday 2nd March and will be continuing this from tomorrow, Wednesday 18 March," said Mr. Guthrie.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I had also made application to the Department of Education for TWO exceptional closure days on Thursday 19 and Friday 20 March.

"However, I have been unsuccessful and these have been denied, a similar story to many other primary schools in our city who had applied for the same.

"This means that school will be open for pupils from Thursday 19 March until further notification on closure," he added.

Principal Guthrie went on tell parents that he would "respect your decision" if they withdrew their children from the school as a result.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"As previously stated, I totally understand and respect your decision to protect your children and families.

"You should therefore do what you feel is right for your own individual circumstances

"Any updates will continue to be communicated to pupils/guardians and parents via text message, our website and social media pages," he said.

The Minister for Education, Peter Weir, DUP MLA, has repeatedly said this week that now was not the time to close schools in Northern Ireland.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mr. Weir said on Monday any decision to close schools would be "backed up by expert, clear and unambiguous advice and guidance provided to me by the Chief Medical Officer, the Public Health Agency and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies."

A spokesman for the Department of Education said: “The current advice from the Chief Medical Officer, the Public Health Agency and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies is that schools should remain open until advised otherwise.

Schools who wish to close for a few days to help plan for long term closure should in the first instance, review their remaining optional and staff development days for this purpose.

“Requests for exceptional closures should be made initially to the Department of Education.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“These are likely to be approved if needed to facilitate an enhanced/deep clean following discussions with public health professionals.

“If schools have submitted an exceptional closure which has not been approved and are able to provide a fuller explanation as to why the closure is needed, then the Department would be happy to review the request.”

There are currently 62 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the North of Ireland.