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Will schools in Ireland close due to the cold weather this winter?

Extreme ice or snow around the school might lead to the building closing if it cannot be cleared, especially if it means students and staff struggle to get there safely on local paths and roads.

A dog looks out of a car window at the wintry conditions in Killeshin, Co. Laois. Picture: PA© PA

Maeve McTaggartSunday World

As temperatures start to drop this week, there is a good chance school-goers will be asking if a day off is on the cards sometime soon.

There are a number of reasons a school might have to shut as weather warnings come in, especially if it gets icy.

Extreme ice or snow around the school might lead to the building closing if it cannot be cleared, especially if it means students and staff struggle to get there safely on local paths and roads.

Burst or frozen pipes may also close the school – or if the heating system isn’t up to par.

The National Teacher’s Organisation recommends that classrooms are heated to at least 16 degrees by 10am. If this can’t be achieved, the school may make the decision to close too.

Met Éireann has already issued a nationwide winter weather advisory this week as an Arctic air mass is set to freeze the country.

The national forecaster warned: “Very cold this week with sharp to severe frosts and icy stretches on roads. Showers of hail, sleet, and snow will occur during the second half of the week. Updates with potential warnings will be issued in the coming days."

The advisory came into effect yesterday and will remain in place until 11.30pm on Saturday.

If a Status Red weather warning is in place, the Department of Education may advise that schools close for a certain period of time.

There is no sign of this happening so far and ultimately, the decision will be made by the principal based on advisories from the Department, Met Éireann and local gardaí.

The conditions in the school, the capacity of the school to ensure the health and safety of student while in the school, the ability to safely get to the school and guidance from response agencies all play into the decision to close.

A Status Yellow warning suggests schools should be aware of the weather situation, a Status Orange means schools should be prepared and a Status Red requires action to be taken.

Sometimes, depending on the local area, a Status Orange may warrant action being taken too as decision to close is usually based on local conditions, past experiences in bad weather at the school and current advice by local response agencies.


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