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Contrasting views among mums about coronavirus schools closures in Northern Ireland, but they all want their minds put at ease

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Lisa Wells

Lisa Wells

Suzie Steenson

Suzie Steenson

Lisa Wells

Elizabeth Mackin from Newry says her son's school is closed until Thursday, but adds she would not have sent him even if it had been open.

"My boy is 11 with special needs and asthma, and from the information I've seen it seems that anyone with asthma is high risk and I will be taking him out until there is some sort of information that might put parents' minds at ease."

Elizabeth (29), who is studying for a degree in English and history, will put her son's education first during his time away from school.

She said: "If it really is as long as 16 weeks at home, then it'll be carrying on with his school work that takes priority.

"A certain amount of routine has to continue because uncertainty isn't helpful."

Lisa Wells, from Clanvaraghan, Co Down, has Lyme disease but plans to carry on sending her children, aged 15 and 18, to school and tech.

"My children are coming up to exams and in my mind it's essential they go unless they're told otherwise," said Lisa (50).

"I'm in a vulnerable group because I have a long-standing illness, but I'm really happy to take the guidance from the school or college as they're in the best place to make the decision.

"My son is at Shimna College in Newcastle, which is closing on Monday, and I'm happy to support whatever the staff and teachers think is right.

"The mixed messages coming from Stormont are unhelpful and divisive. On a national scale I appreciate the information coming from Westminster. I think we should be having regular updates. There is so much fake news and misleading information people are confused and scared."

Mum-of-four Suzie Steenson has two children of school age. Even before yesterday's announcement that the school would close today, Ms Steenson from Kilkeel, Co Down, said she had decided to withdraw them.

"Parents are getting a very confusing message. We are being told people with underlying health conditions need to be protected, yet individual families' needs are not being taken into consideration. I have asthma and I would be very concerned about how we'd cope if I was to contract the virus," she said.

Ms Steenson (36) works part-time as a care assistant for the elderly in their homes.

She added: "I'm worried about carrying anything into them as well. I don't know how exactly I'll manage the work situation with me taking the children out of school, but my oldest daughter will be able to help me out looking after the younger ones.

"My son is in his GCSE year at Shimna College so he's not happy about all this, but my daughter, who is 10 on Monday, is fine."

Healthcare assistant Ashley Murdock from Belfast has two children, aged seven and 10, and plans to carry on sending them to school until guidance changes.

She said: "The problem for me will be that the schools closing will not help my situation at all.

"I work in the hospital and my husband works in retail, neither of which stop even if we do lock down.

"My kids will have to go to friends while we work, which defeats the purpose of closing the schools I'd like to hang on for as long as I can to keep things normal for the kids."

Belfast Telegraph