Two Tower Hamlets primary schools have been shut after they became infested with false widow spiders.
The Osmani is closed until Monday (November 16) and Thomas Buxton Primary Schools will be shut for the next week while pest controllers try to tackle the outbreak. Parents will now have to make arrangements to keep hundreds of children at home.
A Tower Hamlets spokesman said: “The Osmani and Thomas Buxton Primary Schools are both temporarily closed due to a spider infestation.
“Pest control teams are currently on the premises of both schools, dealing with the infestation of false widow spiders. The spiders are not considered to be dangerous but do bite.
“Due to health concerns for staff and pupils the schools will be closed until next week.
“If you are worried about the health of your child – in particular around spider bites – please do make sure that you refer your child to a local GP.”
Thomas Buxton School said in a statement: “The safety and wellbeing of the children is our main concern so we have to take immediate action to deal with the problem. We are very sorry for the inconvenience and disruption to family life and also to the children’s learning.”
The Osmani school told parents: "It has been confirmed that we have an infestation of false black widow spiders in the school grounds and building. The spiders can give a nasty bite which may cause an allergic reaction in vulnerable people.
"The entire school building and grounds will have to be fumigated as a matter of urgency. Therefore, we have no option but to close the school immediately. The closure is essential to safely fumigate the nests and remove the eggs. School will re-open on November 16.
"We are very sorry for the inconvenience and disruption to family life and also to the children's learning. We would urge children to regularly log in to the pupils learning page on the school website as well doing as many of the homework options on the class page."
False widow spiders are not a new presence, despite the fact they have claimed headlines in recent years. They arrived in the south-west of England in the 1870s and are now Britain’s most venomous spider.
It has distinctive cream markings on its bulbous body and is brown with reddish-orangey legs and lives in warm, dark places.