HILLFOOTS parents are up in arms after 40 children were absent from school due to a sickness bug which could have been avoided.

The sickness and diarrhoea affected almost all of the primary one and two classes from Tillicoultry Primary School, which has a roll of 346, in October.

A number of furious parents have contacted the Advertiser to express their ire at a number of issues, including a simply lack of communication, and the fact that the school soap was not fit for use by the kids.

It has also been alleged that the school’s washing up areas were useless for the young kids because the handles were stiff and too tight for them to turn on, meaning they weren’t able to clean their hands.

In addition, it has been claimed that for the past couple of years, kids have become sick at the same time and the school have yet to take any action.

Environmental health were even called out this year because of the scale of the issue.

One angry mother, who asked not to be named, argued something must have changed at the school to cause these issues.

She said: “They [the council] have reduced the number of cleaners in the school, so that probably added to the mess.

“Something has changed recently. I have never seen things this bad before.”

One parent who wishes to remain anonymous, told the Advertiser that her daughter caught the bug and was bed-ridden for three days, and even became unwell herself.

While acknowledging that these things happen, she said it gave her cause for concern.

She said: “My daughter got the bug and was off for three days. Luckily, I didn't get it properly, but didn't feel great for a few days, which isn't great.”

The mother added: “There was soap there, but it was all dry and no use to anyone. On top of that the taps were too hard for the kids to use.”

A man whose child attends the primary also claimed that the whole school is a mess – inside and out.

He said: “There is dog mess and broken glass all throughout the playground and the inside is not much better. It hardly teaches them to take pride. Shameful.”

The bug is not the only issue parents have been left reeling about, however. The same group of parents, who claim they are at loggerheads with the school’s parent teacher council, demanded action after a bin was left to overflow for over three weeks.

It got to the point that the parents discussed going out to clean it themselves, although their better judgement told them not to.

Despite complaining to the council and the school, they say the buck was passed and that nobody would take responsibility for the bin, which had dog faeces in bags and glass strewn around it.

One mother said: “If that is the outside, then what state are the insides of the school like? I have to wonder if the school has the supplies to clean the school properly.”

Another parents added: “There's broken glass lying about that has been there for months. We also have to walk our children through icy playgrounds that should be gritted.

“The council have fobbed us all off blaming the janitor. Also, the janitor has said it's not part of his job description. I know this to be untrue.”

NHS Forth Valley health board said they had no record of complaints about the sickness outbreak, but did give advice on what to do if your child catches something.

A spokesperson said: “It is important that anyone affected by diarrhoea and/or vomiting should not return to work or school until 48 hours after their symptoms have stopped.

“With this type of illness it is extremely important that strict hand-washing techniques are adopted.

"Hands should be washed thoroughly with soap and water particularly after going to the toilet and before eating. Alcohol-based hand sanitisers are not effective in preventing the spread of this illness.”

A statement from Clackmannanshire Council said: “A member of the environmental health team attended Tillicoultry Primary School in relation to some concerns received from parents about diarrhoea and vomiting amongst children.

“The officer gave some practical advice on how the outbreak may be contained. There is clear guidance for all schools in Forth Valley for prevention, control and action to help control infection.

“As part of this, there are cleaning products which are used in these circumstances, and the council’s cleaning team issued these for use and an enhanced cleaning regime was put in place.

“There is now a much reduced reporting of sickness in the school. We’d remind everyone to follow the advice issued by the NHS to ensure that any outbreak of diarrhoea and vomiting is contained as much as possible.”

Archie Drummond, a Clackmannanshire councillor who is also on the parent teacher council at the school, downplayed the outbreak.

He added: “It is not just at Tillicoultry primary, there are similar bugs across the area. It is just one of these things.”