Teachers across Waltham Forest are on high alert after infestations of false widow spiders forced 10 schools in neighbouring boroughs to close.

Thousands of pupils at schools in Newham and Enfield and have been forced to stay home, some until then end of the month, due to the epidemic.

False widow spiders, while posing no serious health risk, can cause painful bites.

Waltham Forest Council has reached out to schools to remind them how to re-spond if any cases of spider bites are to arise.

Cllr Grace Williams, Waltham Forest Council cabinet member for children and young people, said: “No infestations of false widow spiders have been found in any schools in Waltham Forest.

“We have, however, written to all of our headteachers to share the latest advice from Public Health England about them.

“The safety of students and school staff is a top priority.”

Dr Deborah Turbitt, deputy director for PHE London, said: “If you have been bitten, gently wash the affected area with soap and water.

“Cold packs and simple oral painkillers may be useful if bites are painful.

“If symptoms don't respond to these measures, there is severe swelling, or the bite is around the eyes, do seek medical attention.”