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A motorist slowly overtakes stopped vehicles in Co Clare Liam Burke
school closures

Snow day: Schools have 'autonomy' to close depending on local weather conditions

Education Minister Norma Foley praised the “enormous determination” of schools to try and remain open.

LAST UPDATE | 9 Mar 2023

THE DEPARTMENT OF Education has said that schools opting to close due to severe weather are making decisions “in the interest of child safety”.

A snow and ice warning is currently in place nationwide, with Status Orange alerts in place for 13 counties while the remaining counties being placed under a Status Yellow alert.

Significant snowfall in some parts of the country – particularly Limerick, Kerry and Clare – have lead to some school closures, but a majority of schools around the country remain open.

In a statement today, a spokesperson for the Department said that there are no requirements for schools to close due to poor weather and that decisions should be made locally.

“There is no requirement for schools to report closures relating to weather events to the Department,” the spokesperson said.

“The decision to close a school rests with the school management authority taking into consideration the full guidance and direction available from the principal response agencies, especially An Garda Síochána.

“Any decision to close is taken in the interest of child safety, having assessed the local risks and having consulted, as appropriate, with school transport operators.”

Speaking in Dublin this morning, Education Minister Norma Foley told reporters that it was important for schools to have this autonomy.

“You will note that here today, the climate is very different to what they’re experiencing perhaps in other places in Limerick and Kerry and Clare as has already been outlined and perhaps in other places as well, so it is important that they would have the autonomy to make the decision.

“They know what the conditions are on the ground. In particular they would work with school transport as well and decisions will be made around that.”

Foley added that schools had shown “enormous determination” to try and remain open and that boards of management have acted with “professionalism” and “dedication”.

The National Emergency Coordination Group chair Keith Leonard told RTÉ News this afternoon that there is “definitely a question mark over schools opening” tomorrow. 

However, he added: “But it’ll be hard to know exactly which schools will be affected, so principals will make that decision tomorrow based on the local conditions.” 

With reporting by Hayley Halpin

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