E.coli school boycott goes on

Lawfield Primary remains open after the E.coli outbreak
Lawfield Primary remains open after the E.coli outbreak
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PARENTS are continuing to boycott a Midlothian primary school after council chiefs admitted water which flooded part of the playground was contaminated with E.coli.

Dozens of parents decided to remove their children from Lawfield Primary School on Monday after claiming staff had told them that the water in the playground – excess surface water run off from a neighbouring field – may contain E.coli.

Many chose to again keep their children at home yesterday and warned they would not return to the Mayfield school until they were assured that there were no health risks.

Midlothian Council issued a statement yesterday confirming that samples of the water taken in the playground last Friday had revealed some signs of bacteria, including E.coli, although it was not clear what strain it was.

This sparked further concerns from angry parents about why the school was allowed to open on Monday after the October holidays.

Environmental health officers are calling for an urgent meeting with the owner of the field to find out more about how the land is farmed. They also hope for a long-term solution to the overflow problem.

Mark Wilkinson, 38, whose wife contracted E.coli while being treated for kidney stones at a city hospital, said he would keep his two sons out of school until the problems were fixed.

The father-of-three, from Mayfield, said: “It’s caused a bit of a panic. There’s four in my street who are definitely off – and that’s only in my street.

“I won’t send my sons back until the council sorts out the drainage problem.

“The whole of Mayfield is quite upset about it. It’s panicked me – the last place E.coli should be is in a playground.

“I want this fixed as quickly as possible so my kids can go back to school.”

Pupils returning to Lawfield Primary after the October break on Monday were told to take their shoes off before entering the building and urged to wash their hands with antibacterial gel, with both hygiene measures remaining in place.

Midlothian Council said while further tests are being carried out on the “contaminated” water, the school will remain open. Part of the playground has been cordoned off while health officials try to establish exactly what strains of E.coli are present. Sandbags are being used to divert the water away from the school.

Councillor Lisa Beattie, cabinet member for education, said: “The school remains open. We’re continuing to follow all the correct procedures as advised by NHS public health and environmental health. I must stress that the indoor water supply in the school is not affected.

“We understand parents are obviously worried when they hear that water coming into part of a playground has bacteria in it. However, I want to reassure everyone that we’re confident we are doing all we should be to keep children and staff safe, and we are asking parents to send their children to school as normal.”