Adverse Weather Conditions

Information and advice on unavoidable school closures and travel arrangements in difficult weather or other unforeseen circumstances.

Issued: October 2013

Definition of an exceptional closure

An exceptional closure is unplanned and is due to unforeseen circumstances such as adverse weather conditions, power failure or situations which might affect the safety of the pupils and staff.

The following action plan details the measures which the school will undertake to –

Ensure the safety of pupils and staff
Keep parents informed about arrangements for closure and re-opening
Arrange for pupils to be picked up during the school day should the need arise.

When it snows during the school day

On rare occasions, the weather can be so severe that getting to and from school becomes hazardous.
This is especially so if the weather worsens in the afternoon.
Really bad weather is disruptive and can cause anxiety and stress.
Understandably, many parents ring the school if snow starts falling heavily during the day. It can be frustrating trying to get through when our outside line is engaged by other parents calling for the same reason!

A jammed line and answering queries can in turn delay office staff who are trying to get through to parents to arrange for early collection of children. We will ensure that our website is updated throughout the day using the News section + scrolling banner regarding any developments which mean that the school has had to close unexpectantly. We will also contact parents by text service. (it is important that parents update the school of any changes to mobile phone contacts).

In extreme circumstances, when very bad weather is predicted or has broken out, the school will allow pupils to call parents via their mobile phone. Decisions about closing the school or sending pupils home early are always difficult to make. We need to gather reliable information before making a judgement. We check weather reports, get advice from the WELB and try to access what is happening elsewhere in the area. The decision to close school during a working day is not taken lightly but the over-riding principle is the safety of pupils and staff. It is the responsibility of the Principal, in consultation with senior staff, to determine if the school will close. The decision is taken on an individual basis and not based on those of neighbouring schools whose circumstances may differ.
Due to the position of our school, the main approach roads are particularly hazardous to navigate in extreme weather.

If the school is to be closed due to adverse weather overnight

In extreme weather conditions such as heavy snowfall during the night the Principal will make a decision on the need to close the school as early as possible. In reaching this decision, it usually means that the approach roads/and/or the school grounds are inaccessible and opening the school would be deemed unsafe for staff and pupils to travel. This will allow for early communication with parents and staff. Decisions the night before can only be taken when all the indications are that adverse weather conditions will continue overnight, or that the amount of snow that has already fallen would make travel to the school extremely difficult. If there are doubts a final decision will be deferred until early morning.

If it is decided that it would be impossible to open the school, the following action will be taken to inform parents:

1. The school closure will be posted on our website – news section and scrolling banner hopefully by 8.00a.m. and will be broadcast on the local radio stations (BBC Ulster or City Beat)

2. The school will endeavour to contact all parents through Call Parents by text to inform them of the school closure.

If the weather deteriorates during the day

1. The school will be closed early but only in extreme cases.
2. The decision to close the school will be made by the Principal and other key staff.
3. Any decision to close the school early will be passed on to staff and pupils as soon as we have arrangements in hand, posted on the website and parent text message sent.
4. School will be kept open with as many staff as is possible on hand, until the last pupil has left.
5. It is not possible for pupils to be given lifts by staff.
6. Parents collecting their children are asked to meet at the front of the school. Please leave the approach to school free of traffic.
7. Due to Health & Safety – it is very important that staff travel must be taken into consideration.

How parents can help

Check the school website and listen to BBC Ulster or City Beat.
Plan ahead with your child what to do in a bad weather emergency.
Keep looking at our website, check for texts and twitter.
Only call the school if you really have to – calls in prevent calls out!