East London schools shut down due to infestation of venomous false widow spiders

Four east London schools have been shut for up to a month after being infested with venomousfalse widow spiders.

Pest controllers were called in after the pests were reported at two primary and two secondary schools in Newham - writes standard.co.uk.

Pupils now face weeks without classroom lessons. One school, Rokeby secondary in Canning Town, is due to remain closed until October 29.

False widow spiders are about the size of a 50p coin and are the most dangerous spider species in the UK. Their bites can cause painful swelling but are not life-threatening.

Parents said they were told to collect their children early after the infestations were discovered.

Cara Turpin, whose daughter attends Star Lane Primary in Canning Town which is also affected, said on Facebook: “I had to get her early yesterday. It’s shut until Friday as far as we know, not sure about next week.”

Lister Community School in Plaistow and Ellen Wilkinson Primary in Beckton were also closed until further notice after the spiders were found there.

Rokeby head teacher Charlotte Robinson said a pest control company estimated it would take three weeks to clear the creatures.

In a letter to parents of the school’s 770 pupils, she wrote: “I have had to take the difficult decision to close Rokeby School to students and staff until Monday October 29.

“We have engaged a company to deal with and eradicate this pest, they have estimated that this will take up to three weeks.

“The safety and wellbeing of students and staff must be our priority so whilst I understand that this may be very inconvenient for you it is in your child’s best interest to remain at home and not at school.”

Lister Community School head teacher Anthony Wilson said he hoped his school would open by Friday.

He added: “Investigations suggest that there may be some of these spiders on our site, and we are therefore following advice from the local authority and will be closing the school as a precaution to allow full investigation.”

A Newham Council spokeswoman confirmed the schools – which are all within a two-mile radius - were closed after the false widow spiders were discovered.

She added: “The spiders only bite if mishandled or provoked. The venom is not particularly potent.

“The schools are being treated and fumigated and we are working with the schools to ensure that children can continue to receive an education whilst their school is closed. Pupils are being set work via the schools and will remain in contact with schools.

“We are asking all our schools and nurseries to proactively check their premises carefully for these spiders and if they see any signs, then contact environmental health or pest control.”

East London schools false widow spiders
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