Calls are growing for Northern Ireland schools to close next week - on the basis that a child or teacher testing positive for Covid-19 will ruin Christmas for whole families.
Education Minister Peter Weir has nevertheless insisted that schools will remain open as planned until December 23.
Several high-profile principals have, however, urged the DUP man to urgently reconsider his stance and for the Executive to bring the closing date forward to next Friday, December 11.
That call has been supported by SDLP Education spokesperson Daniel McCrossan, while Justin McCamphill from NASUWT, the teachers' union, said that the suggestion has merit.
Diane Dawson, Braniel Primary School principal, told the Belfast Telegraph that Mr Weir would be like "the Grinch who stole Christmas" for any teachers or children who were unfortunate enough to contract the virus in the scheduled last week of school.
Graham Gault of Maghaberry Primary School, meanwhile, said parents are worried they won't be able to spend Christmas with their loved ones if their child is forced to self-isolate following a positive diagnosis.
On Tuesday Mr Weir, in a statement, said: "It is disappointing that despite my clear statement on November 17 that schools will not close early, there continues to be widespread rumours about this matter. I will once again stress that there are no plans to extend the Christmas holidays for schools."
Mr Weir reiterated that message in response to a Belfast Telegraph query.
But Ms Dawson told this newspaper that she believed schools should close on December 11.
"Schools need to close to pupils and staff on December 10 as any confirmed cases in school after that date could and would result in pupils and staff having to self-isolate over the Christmas holidays - and even on Christmas Day," she said.
"December 25 is a day we have longed for to see loved ones and be with family, a day to play with toys Santa has brought and to show them to grandparents, a day we have just longed for even more so than ever in this pandemic."
Ms Dawson said teachers aren't asking for "time off" and suggested remote learning from December 11 to 18.
"We just want us, and our pupils, to have Christmas," she said.
"My staff, my pupils and their families need Christmas more this year than they need five school days at the end of term that would be normally filled with Nativity and Key Stage performances, Christmas art, a DVD morning, parties, etc, and that will allow confirmed cases to arise in that time."
The primary school principal said Mr Weir's refusal to close schools early could put teachers and pupils at risk of missing Christmas.
"Should the Minister's current stance of no early closure remain and, confirmed cases from December 11 cause staff and pupils to isolate up to or on Christmas Day, it appears that 'The Grinch who stole Christmas' may very well be the Minister this year," Ms Dawson said.
And she urged him to reconsider closing early in these "unprecedented times" so that no one is "denied Christmas"
"Let's look carefully at when those doors should open and close this year so families can enjoy the festive period," she added.
Mr Gault, who is president of the National Association of Head Teachers, said parents were worried about potential disruption to their Christmas plans in the event of children testing positive for Covid in the last week of term.
"Understandably, the main concern voiced by many of our parents is that they won't be able to spend Christmas with their loved ones should their child be identified as a close contact," he said.
"We have been telling them that Minister Weir has clarified that schools will not be closing early before Christmas.
Mr Gault also called on the Ministers of Health and Education to make a joint statement so that families can have certainty over the holiday season.
"I have written to the Minister of Health to ask if he foresees any risk to the Christmas plans of families and if he can make a joint statement with Minister Weir with regards to this so that families can have certainty in respect of expectations over the holiday season," he said.
Mr Gault also praised school children for having been "amazing throughout this pandemic" and "have made their principals so proud".
In response to the Belfast Telegraph, a Department of Education spokesperson said "schools should not change or extend their Christmas holidays or close early this term.
"Children should continue to attend school until the last day of term unless they have been told to self-isolate. Remote learning should only be used if children have been told to self-isolate.
"The change to social restrictions over Christmas does not require children to be taken out of school prematurely."
The statement added: "The Minister considers that further unnecessary time away from the classroom will only cause greater disruption to children's education and lead to an increase in levels of stress and anxiety.
"His main priority is to guard children's education, mental health and well-being."
The Department of Health was also approached but did not wish to comment.