Belfast school closed on first day as the rats move in
A rodent infestation has forced a west Belfast Primary school to shut its doors right at the start of a new term.
Around 450 of St Teresa's Primary School pupils were told to stay home after rat droppings were found in the school grounds.
It's believed the discovery was made on Wednesday, just one day before students were due to arrive for the new school year. School principal Terry Rodgers said he hoped the school would now re-open on Monday.
"I can confirm that we have had to close St Teresa's for an additional two days at the start of the new school term due to confirmation we received that the school had a rodent issue," he said.
"I understand that this is very inconvenient for our pupils, however I can assure parents that the school is dealing with the problem as swiftly as possible. Once we have carried out a deep clean of the school we hope to be open as normal next week. I will be in touch with parents to keep them up to date."
Despite the disruption to the start of term, one parent, Lisa-Marie, who has a son at the school, said she was "just glad it being dealt with".
Another parent, Paula Armstrong, commented on Facebook: "It's a disgrace that they only found the problem a day before the school opened. The teachers have been in the school a few days."
But Karen Downey Donnelly took a different view, saying: "I think most parents would rather be inconvenienced and know that their children are being educated in a clean and pest free environment. Well done to the school for acting appropriately and putting the health and safety of their pupils first."
Louise Easton added: "Happy to see that the appropriate action was taken. Great school with a great principal and staff."
The school's rodent problem is the latest in a string of rat sightings in public buildings around Belfast. In March guests leaving an evening function in Belfast City Hall were shocked to spot a number of rats. Elected officials were also startled to be disturbed by the unwelcome sight as they left a council meeting.
In April, diners in Shaftesbury Square's KFC fled after spotting a large rat on the floor.
And in 2015, a Caffe Nero beside Belfast City Hall was also closed for weeks after video footage showed rats scurrying around the premises late at night.