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storm barra

Schools across the country advised to 'open tomorrow as usual'

Schools are closed in 12 counties today.

LAST UPDATE | Dec 8th 2021, 3:01 PM

SCHOOLS AROUND THE country are advised to open as usual tomorrow, the Department of Education has said. 

The advisory comes as schools in 12 counties were advised to close today and yesterday as a result of the severe weather brought by Storm Barra. 

In a statement this afternoon the Department confirmed that schools are advised to open tomorrow, adding: “The Department would like to thank school communities, staff, students and parents, as well as the emergency services for their support during Storm Barra.”

The Department of Children has also said that all early learning and care and school age childcare services will open tomorrow as usual, while the Department of Further and Higher Education said all third-level institutions will likewise open on Thursday.

It comes after the Department of Education announced yesterday evening that all schools forecast to be in a Status Red or Orange county should remain closed today.

It was announced at about 6pm yesterday that this would apply to schools in Clare, Cork, Donegal, Galway, Kerry, Leitrim, Limerick, Mayo, Sligo, Waterford and Wexford.

After 9pm yesterday, a Status Orange weather warning warning was issued for Dublin and the Department of Education then confirmed that schools in Dublin were also advised to close. 

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar earlier today defended the decision to close schools in counties that had an orange weather warning issued, stating that it was a “precautionary measure”. 

Speaking to reporters in Drogheda this morning, he said traditionally, schools are only closed in areas where there are red weather warnings issued. 

However, on this occasion, the government decided to close schools in regions where Met Eireann had issued an orange weather warning also. This is the first time such a decision has ever been taken, he added. 

He explained that this was due to the nature of this particular weather event, which involved high winds, rain, snow, and the risk of flooding. 

It was done “for good reason”, he said, stating that the decision was taken to “minimise injury and the loss of life”.  

There has been some criticism from schools and parents in Dublin after the county was added late to a list of counties told to close schools today due to Storm Barra. 

The Tánaiste said that a review will take place in relation to the government’s response to Storm Barra to see “what lessons can be learned”. 

A Status Yellow wind and rain warning is in place for the country until 6pm today. An orange wind warning was in place for Sligo and Leitrim until 8am and an orange wind warning will remain until 2pm for Donegal.  

Fine Gael TD Jennifer Carroll MacNeill said the government “needs to communicate the rationale behind late decision” to close Dublin schools today.

“Parents need to know the detailed reasons and concerns of government task force,” the TD said on Twitter.

Parents have also been raising issues on social media about the late notice of the closure.

Enda McGorman, principal of Mary Mother of Hope Senior Primary School in Dublin, said school officials were “very unsure as to what to do” after Dublin was added to the Status Orange weather warning last night.

After receiving advice within the next hour from the department to remain closed, the school was able to give the “really late notice” to parents. 

“Our children this morning will probably get an extra lie-in that they weren’t expecting, but I’d still be worried that some parents actually didn’t get the news,” he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland. 

He added that it may not have been realistic for schools to re-open today in the first instance, with inspections to be completed and time needed to “make all their plans for schools to be open properly”. 

Schools in the remainder of the country should operate as normal as storm warnings are gradually eased today.

Schools in many counties were also closed yesterday in light of weather warnings for Storm Barra. 

- With reporting by Rónán Duffy

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