Page last updated at 08:27 GMT, Friday, 14 August 2009 09:27 UK

Schools 'concern' over swine flu

swine flu
Schools are waiting on guidance from the Department of Health.

Head teachers in the north west have said they are concerned about how well schools are prepared to deal with the swine flu virus ahead of the new term.

A vaccination campaign against swine flu will begin in the autumn.

Schools have said they are waiting for guidance on how to deal with the issue from the Department of Health.

The Western Education and Library Board said schools were given a checklist to help prepare contingency plans to deal with any outbreak.

The head of the National Association of Head Teachers in Northern Ireland, David Canning, who is also the principal of Strabane Primary School, said he was worried about staffing levels.

"If you have classroom assistants going off ill before a school could get a replacement in, they would need to be vetted and that can take weeks or even months.

"I would see that as a bigger issue than finding substitute teachers who are already checked and ready to be employed," Mr Canning said.

"Caretakers, clerical staff and supervisory staff all have a vital role to play in schools and once again we don't have substitutes for these sorts of roles that are already vetted."

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