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AIBU

Snow and school closures.

(188 Posts)
ajanela Thu 01-Mar-18 09:36:44

AIBU. In the south where my DGS age 12 goes to school as of Wednesday they only had a very light sprinkling of snow but my DD received a message on Wednesday saying his school will be closed until Monday. Reason the buses could not run and snow was forecast. I think this is over cautious. How often severe weather warnings don't happen and the country should not stop due to light snow as usually experienced in our part of the south.

Children may be travelling further for childcare than they go to school. Some will be left home alone. The schools are fining people for taking their children out of school to go on holiday as their schooling is so important. Some Parents who stay home to care for their children will loose money, the teachers won't. I know schools are there to educate our children not provide child care but parents have to work and plan there working life depending on their children being at school except in emergencies.

Nonnie Thu 01-Mar-18 09:55:19

I suspect it is health and safety. If they can't guarantee enough teachers in the school they have to close it. It was very different years ago when everyone pulled together in an emergency. I heard yesterday of a head teacher who had banned children from touching snow because at some point in the past a child had been injured by a snowball. Maybe just tell them that a snowball should only be snow and nothing else but maybe I'm old fashioned.

Bellanonna Thu 01-Mar-18 09:57:36

Seems a bit dramatic on the part of the school given that there was just a sprinkling of snow. If the area forecast was for severe weather to come I suppose the school had to make a decision. To be fair it is pretty bad here in my London suburb but my GS’s school is still open. When I picked him up on Tuesday the children were having a great time snowballing each other, and GS and I had fun on the way home too. However it is much worse now and fir those who normally drive, they might find buses limited. we walked the mile or so with no problem but it’s possible some teachers could have long or awkward journeys. Since your school made their decision to close the weather has become a lot worse. I certainly wouldn’t go out in the current minus 4 and deepening snow. It’s only a handful of days and you say it will be open on Monday. It’s one of those things isn’t it. It doesn’t often happen.

Anniebach Thu 01-Mar-18 10:02:01

So much suing going on now , it's understandable schools must be fearful.

Luckygirl Thu 01-Mar-18 10:08:19

The local schools are closed and absolutely right. Light layer of snow here but red warning from mid-day onwards for 24 hours+.

The village school where I am governor has teachers coming from high up in the Black Mountains and the chances are that there would be insufficient staff to keep the children properly supervised.

I do not think the decisions are over-cautious. A red alert is rare and the advice is not to go out as the roads are unsafe - the head teachers are being responsible in these decisions and I back them all the way.

The world has changed - when we were young a lot of children walked to school along quiet roads with no risk of cars skidding off the road and up the pavement (assuming there is one).

The nonsense about missing a few days of school ruining their futures is government generated. Most teachers have their feet on the ground and recognise the realities.

Nonnie Thu 01-Mar-18 10:08:58

Our local primary school is not on a main road and is not so easily accessible but it is open. Temperature is -4 and more snow is forecast. Surely schools could stay open until it is clear that getting home is potentially difficult? I seem to remember snow being really good fun at school and a good opportunity for teaching. I can remember a time when only about half the school came in and we all gathered in the hall and had a good time.

Cabbie21 Thu 01-Mar-18 10:17:01

Yes, if it is a village school and all the children and staff live locally, they can stay open. Most teachers do not live near the school. There needs to be enough supervision. Many school buses, especially those that pick up round the villages will not be running.
Here in the midlands even major routes are snarled up, some closed because of accidents.
Decisions have to be taken in sufficient time, and given the weather warnings, I think it is wise to close in certain areas.

Marydoll Thu 01-Mar-18 10:29:10

It is all to do with health and safety.
A number of years ago, we had very heavy snow and when I got to school, (it took over an hour to walk there, although I lived locally), I discovered my colleague and I were the only two teachers there, as most staff couldn't get there.
We had over 100 excited, soaking wet, cold children contained in the school hall, with just two of us and a pupil support assistant, which of course was, from a health and safety point of view, very risky.
Many had walked on their own, without parents, so we couldn't even ask the parents to take them back home. Neither could we leave them to ring round parents, as we had some very challenging children, who needed supervision.
It was a very stressful situation.
We really have to look at the bigger picture. The priority is keeping everyone safe.

Greyduster Thu 01-Mar-18 11:12:45

Our GS’s junior school was open yesterday when conditions were horrible. Today they were closed until ten o’clock when the situation was set to be reviewed. I suspect they may stay closed. It is bitterly cold and was still snowing until about half an hour ago. Most teachers don’t live locally to the school they work in and often don’t leave work until it is dark when the very low temperatures and potential further snowfall make travelling difficult. Headteachers have a huge responsibility to their staff and the children. I’m sure they don’t take these decisions lightly.

trisher Thu 01-Mar-18 11:13:03

Oh Marydoll I had exactly the same experience. Singing, action songs, talent competition-anything to keep them sitting and controlled. A few more teachers arrived at different times and we eventually split them, but there were teachers missing and we doubled up classes.
I think teachers live further from schools now. The head has to decide closure first thing in the morning, based on the weather, how many staff will get in, the risk to children and the possibility that the weather may worsen and going home might be difficult. They tend to take a cautious view.

Bellanonna Thu 01-Mar-18 11:20:03

That sounds like a nightmare Marydoll.

OurKid1 Thu 01-Mar-18 11:23:49

I'd be very surprised if it has anything to do with fear of being sued. I think it's due to the increased choice of schools and therefore pupils being transported (often by coach) from further afield. That's certainly the case at the school I used to work at. If the majority of pupils are bussed in and the bus companies take their vehicles off the road, the school doesn't really have a choice, do they?

Also there's the fact that teachers often have a fair distance to travel. Gone are the days when everyone, staff and pupils alike, lived within walking distance of their school.

There's a Red Warning out here, so if the advice is not to travel, the schools have very little choice. Do they? The issue of fining parents for unauthorised absences is not really relevant in that case. Most of our local schools have said they are sending work out via email in any case (Though I do wonder if many actually do it - not sure I would have done!!)

ajanela Thu 01-Mar-18 11:27:04

Ok, I except your points and it is snowing there today and mum hasn't gone to work. So they weren't being over cautious and I was being unreasonable.

gillybob Thu 01-Mar-18 11:28:37

Exactly why my eldest DGD's school has closed OurKid1 . As it happens she could walk there but the majority of children are bused in from miles away. The buses were all taken off so school has closed.

My youngest 2's school was open yesterday (closed today) but they have to take 2 buses to/from school and couldn't physically get there.

Bring back the days when children could go to schools close to home. It's madness.

gillybob Thu 01-Mar-18 11:30:02

Unlike teachers, mome people don't get paid if they don't go to work though.

gillybob Thu 01-Mar-18 11:30:24

mome ??

some.

trisher Thu 01-Mar-18 11:31:02

But actually it was fun. We extended play ime took turns supervising, built snowmen etc. Before the days of Elf and Safety of course.

trisher Thu 01-Mar-18 11:31:54

ime-time

mostlyharmless Thu 01-Mar-18 11:32:33

Headteachers agonise about these decisions. They definitely don’t take them lightly.
They have to take into account the number of staff who can safely travel there, the state of the local roads, pavement access, the paths in the school grounds, bus services running or not.
Then they have to guess all those issues for end of the school day - whether children and staff can travel home safely.
I think it’s a rare school nowadays where pupils and teachers all live within easy walking distance.
Headteachers will get criticised for whatever decision they make, but they would be considered responsible if a child or member of staff were to be seriously injured.

Marydoll Thu 01-Mar-18 12:03:18

In most areas of Scotland, it is the local authority who decide if schools close, using text messaging service to parents, Twitter, council and school websites, radio etc. I used to have to get up at the crack of dawn to put it on our school website, as that was the first place most parents looked. 😴
Much more sensible than leaving HTs to do it. .

SueDonim Thu 01-Mar-18 13:13:01

In a bad winter a few years ago (2010/11?) our LA told teachers that they should report to their nearest school if they couldn't reach their own school. That allowed some schools to stay open, particularly primary schools.

In that same winter, the school bus my daughter used only ran for nine days between 23rd Nov and 11th Feb. Normally the school says that children shouldn't be brought into school under their own steam because of the danger that they couldn't get home again.

In that case, though, parents, with the agreement of school, overrode the advice and we all took our children in ourselves, using the same roads the bus apparently couldn't negotiate! hmm

harrigran Thu 01-Mar-18 14:12:43

DS and family live in a village, they can't get to work and the schools are closed. Just had a call to say the power was off.
I can not remember losing a day at school through bad weather, maybe we were made of stronger stuff.

gillybob Thu 01-Mar-18 14:16:52

Me neither harri we used to trudge through the snow and the heating was often off when we got there, lessons in coats!

They've all gone soft wink

midgey Thu 01-Mar-18 14:28:09

I read recently that in America snow days taken have to be added to the end of the summer term.

suzied Thu 01-Mar-18 14:31:01

The last school I worked at was an independent school. It didn’t close as then parents might have demanded a refund! Teachers who lived within walking distance were expected to be in. It took me 1 hour to walk in but I did only to find hardly any children there. We had a lovely day. Parents who moan about their child’s school being closed might be the first ones to complain if their little darling had been injured slipping on ice in the playground or in a snowball fight.