School to remain closed until New Year following clearance of ‘rodent activity’
Richard Evans, local democracy reporter
A rat-infested North Wales secondary school will remain closed until the New Year.
Eirias High School in Colwyn Bay was due to reopen to pupils tomorrow but won’t now until January 10 after pest exterminators used highly toxic chemicals to clear the infestation.
Evidence of “rodent activity” was discovered in three classrooms last week which forced the cancellation of a planned Christmas concert last Thursday.
The school moved to online learning last Friday and today but the headteacher Sarah Sutton confirmed in a letter to parents that it will now remain until after the Christmas holidays.
This is to allow the building to be industrially cleaned after “enhanced eradication methods” were deployed and to ensure classrooms are safe.
In the letter, Mrs Sutton said she was disappointed by “sensationalist” media reports about the rat infestation.
Mrs Sutton wrote: “Last week, it came to our attention that there was evidence of rodent activity in three of our classrooms in one block of the building.
“Working in conjunction with pest control experts, an industrial cleaner and the local authority, we took the decision to vacate staff and learners from these classrooms and re-accommodate elsewhere in the building.
“We were at that point confident that there was no further activity across the school.
“The view of the experts was that any issue with rodents was greatly exacerbated by the cold weather.”
But last Thursday the school uncovered “suspected rodent activity in a separate (but geographically close) area of the building” so, the school “took the decision to revert to online learning for the period of Friday 16th December and Monday 19th December,” she added.
“Enhanced (high toxicity) measures” were used by pest controllers over the weekend, in “all affected areas (the initial three classrooms, the surrounding classrooms as a precautionary measure and the area with suspected activity identified on Thursday)”, Mrs Sutton explained.
She added: “These measures have revealed no further rodent activity.
“Locations which have had powerful, enhanced eradication methods are required to be industrially cleaned afterwards in order to make those areas safe for use by learners and staff.
“It is important that the school is able to re-open with full confidence for staff, learners and for you as parents and carers.
“For this reason, then, the school will continue to engage with pest control experts and in turn the industrial cleaners over the next three days prior to and including the Christmas break.
“The building will be monitored by pest control over the course of the holiday period and industrially cleaned prior to school re-opening on Monday 9th January. (designated training day).”
“Learning will therefore remain online through MS Teams and learners will return to school as usual on Tuesday 10th January.”
Mrs Sutton went on to criticise media coverage of the infestation: “We are disappointed with the sensationalist media reporting that has accompanied this series of events and hope that the facts outlined above are helpful and informative.
“Finally, we were dismayed to have to cancel our Christmas concert; we are looking forward to holding this event in January and will be in touch with further details in the New Year.”
She went on to thank parents and carers for their support in these “less-than-ideal circumstances”.
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.