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Wednesday, 19 September, 2001, 15:54 GMT 16:54 UK
Call to close schools for US Olympics
Salt Lake City Olympics
Teachers fear the Olympics could be a terrorist target
Fears over terrorist attacks in the United States have prompted teachers in Salt Lake City to call for local schools to close during the winter Olympics, due to be held there next year.

The Salt Lake Teachers' Association has asked the city's education chiefs - the school board - to take the action in the interests of safety.

The president of the association, Elaine Tzourtzouklis, told BBC News Online that many teachers and parents were in favour of closure.

"If terrorists came in and took the whole school hostage - that would be great news as far as they are concerned," she said.

If terrorists came in and took the whole school hostage - that would be great news as far as they are concerned

Elaine Tzourtzouklis, Salt Lake Teachers' Association
"That's just what they want."

She said the best place for children to be during the games was at home.

"On Tuesday, many parents came into school and took their children home because they were worried about them.

"It will be better for all of us if the schools are closed. We can make up the days elsewhere, so the children's education will not suffer."

The association made its case at a meeting with the school board on Tuesday night and hopes that the board will agree to its request.

'Knee-jerk reaction'

No decision has yet been made, but previously officials have been reluctant to agree to closures.

Laurel Young, the vice-president of the school board said: "I don't want a knee-jerk reaction. We can do as President Bush has counselled us to do, to go on with our lives."

The winter Olympics will take place over 17 days, with the opening ceremony scheduled for February 8th.

If schools were closed during this time, terms would have to be reorganised so that children could meet the state requirement to have 180 days per year in school.

It is believed that parents from at least two schools near to Olympic venues want the schools to be closed.

See also:

18 Sep 01 | Americas
US terror threat remains
16 Jul 01 | Americas
US Olympic charges reduced
18 Sep 01 | Americas
US hunt closes in on plotters
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