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Derry mum says politicians 'playing Russian roulette' with people's lives over suspected coronavirus case at school

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Brian Guthrie

Brian Guthrie

Brian Guthrie

The mother of two children at a Londonderry primary school where the principal was refused an exceptional closure request after a suspected coronavirus case has accused political leaders of playing Russian roulette with people's lives.

The woman, who did not want to be named, said she was stunned when she saw on Ebrington Primary School's website that despite the principal Brian Guthrie requesting two exceptional closure days from the Department of Education, he was refused.

The education department in Northern Ireland had received four letters threatening judicial review over the Covid-19 crisis, a lawyer said yesterday.

Two involved keeping schools open, another focused on testing and another surrounded court closures.

A legal challenge to the decision by Northern Ireland's Education Minister to not close schools was rendered obsolete yesterday by the announcement that classes will shut from Monday.

Although schools are open today and tomorrow, she said she is not sending her children back and every other parent she knows is doing likewise.

She said: "When we saw one pupil was suspected of having coronavirus that made up our minds for us.

"It seems to me, politicians are playing Russian roulette with people's lives here and it needs to stop.

"Parents are taking the decision into their own hands and showing more leadership than those who are supposed to know better."

In the letter to the parents of his 400 pupils, Mr Guthrie explained that the pupil with suspected Covid-19 had been at school last week but began to feel unwell over the weekend.

He said: "Parents have followed all advice and guidelines from the 111 number. As testing is only being carried out when cases are needing hospitalised, I would like to reiterate that it is a suspected case.

"I had made an 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 spokeswoman for the Department of Education said: "Requests for exceptional closures should be made initially to the Department of Education.

"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."

Belfast Telegraph