Volcanic fallout – UK school closures, hospital hold-ups and stranded toddlers

With teachers stranded abroad on holidays, Iceland’s volcanic ash cloud could see schools close and has already held up a toddler’s transplant operation.

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The volcanic ash cloud may impact on UK schools, with the Telegraph reporting schools could be forced to close.

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While most UK children are due back at school this week, for some the Easter holidays could be a little longer than expected, with “hundreds” of teachers stranded abroad on holidays or on school trips, along with pupils themselves.

“Schools do have contingency plans to deal with these sorts of problems because whether it is a flu epidemic, severe weather or volcano ash the impact on the school is the same,” said Chris Keates, general secretary of the teaching union NASUWT.

“However this is so widespread I can see that schools could close, the most likely being primary schools.

“Secondary schools, with pupils sitting important exams and there are more staff, may have to look at using available staff to cover exam lessons instead of teaching years seven or eight.”

Martin Ward, from the Association of School and College Leaders, said, “No doubt many schools will be short staffed on Monday because of teachers being stranded abroad.

“However, except in very small schools, this hopefully will not cause major disruption as schools have good contingency plans in place to cope with teacher absence. We will have a better picture on Monday when schools return for the new term.”

Among those who won’t be back at school are the children of Liberal Democrats leader Nick Clegg. Nick’s sons Antonio, 8, and Alberto, 5, plus his toddler Miguel, 1, spent the Easter holidays with their grandma in Spain, and are still abroad after their flight was grounded.

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The volcanic ash cloud has also delayed the bone marrow transplant for a seriously ill toddler. The flight restrictions mean the donor tissue from Canada can’t be flown in. The little girl is one of 16 patients now in critical need of medical treatment since the volcanic eruption, reported the Metro.

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