A primary school in Derry has been denied permission to close by Northern Ireland's Department of Education, despite a suspected case of coronavirus with one of its pupils.
In a message that was posted on the website of Ebrington Primary and Nursery School, the school's principal, Brian Guthrie, said: "The child displayed no symptoms while in school last week but over the weekend became unwell."
Mr Guthrie reiterated that this is a suspected case.
He also said that a thorough cleaning of the school will take place on Wednesday, and that the school will be open from Thursday.
Since learning of this suspected case, Mr Guthrie has asked for two exceptional closure days this week, Thursday and Friday. He states that the request has been denied.
Mr Guthrie adds: "I had also made 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 similar story to many other primary schools in our city who had applied for the same. This means that school will be open for pupils from Thursday 19 March until further notification on closure.
"I respect your decision to protect your children and families. You should therefore do what you feel is right for your own individual circumstances."
At present, Education Minister Peter Weir is briefing MLAs on his department’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
On Monday, Weir said that that schools in Northern Ireland will remain open for now. However, Weir also said they would have to close at some point in the future because of coronavirus.
Mr Weir said closing schools was "not a step to be taken lightly and without due consideration to the significant consequences".
He said it would be a "policy decision backed up by clear and unambiguous advice from the chief medical officer and the Public Health Agency".
Earlier today, five teaching unions in Northern Ireland have implored the first and deputy first minister to set a date for schools to close.
In a joint letter, the unions said Arlene Foster and Michelle O'Neill should "act immediately."
"We call on you to bring an end to this uncertainty by announcing the date for school closures," the letter said.
The number of positive coronavirus cases in Northern Ireland stands at 62 on Tuesday - a rise of 10 from Monday. The total number of tests completed is 1,338.
It's reported that Boris Johnson has told MPs that a decision on school closures is “imminent”.
— Darran Marshall (@DarranMarshall) March 18, 2020
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