The safety of children and teachers in Northern Ireland schools could be put at risk by a lack of central funding to combat swine flu, it has been warned.
Education Minister Caitriona Ruane was urged by a major teaching union to come up with the money centrally to pay for the resources she has told schools they need to combat the spread of the H1N1 virus.
The Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) said it was concerned about the adequate resourcing of schools to cope with the expected upsurge of swine flu after children return to school next week.
INTO senior official Tony Carlin said: “We are concerned that following a number of calls from principal members it would appear that schools will be required to provide resources such as tissues, alcohol wipes and other measures out of their own school budgets to cope with the potential pandemic.”
The union was trying to clarify the situation, but he said it was concerned there had been no central resourcing of a problem which impacted on the whole community.
A spokesman for the Department of Education said: “Recent advice to schools from the Department of Education and the Public Health Agency recommends the use of soap and water to promote good hand hygiene.
“This is based on advice from health professionals and should be routine practice.
“We have never promoted hand wipes as a substitute for soap and water.”