School days, snow days...
As I write this blog the snow is falling … again. I had hoped Spring might be here. It seems I am wrong. Fortunately, today is a Saturday and I do not have to worry about a ‘snow day’! But I do want to write about snow days; firstly, to thank the High Storrs community for all their support with the recent school closures and secondly, to explain a little about how we arrive at the decisions to close the school, have a late start, open the school etc etc.
When snow is forecast overnight it would be fair to say I do not get much sleep! I tend to get up from 4 am to check the conditions and the forecast. At 6am one of our amazing caretakers telephones to tell me about the school site and the local roads. If conditions are poor and/or snow continues to fall then a decision has to be made as carefully but as quickly as possible. Quite often the best first move is to start to make arrangements for a late start. This signals to families and to staff that they have more time to make their journeys and can take the safest possible route. It also gives the Leadership Team time to see what other local schools (including Primary partners) are considering and to establish if local transport is running and if traffic is moving.
There are myriad other considerations that go into the decision to open or close. I read a great article written by another Headteacher during the ‘Beast from the East’s’ onslaught and the article summarised beautifully all that goes into the decision. He wrote:
- How severe is the weather based on our previous experience?
- Can I get to school safely and if not can my deputy and other senior staff?
- Will there be appropriate experience to manage safeguarding and health and safety on site including qualified first aiders?
- Can sufficient numbers of staff reach school safely to provide education?
- Can sufficient numbers of staff reach school to provide child care safely?
- Can families get to school safely?
- When on site can we meet the needs of individual children safely?
- Is the site safe so large groups can move around safely, for instance if we had to evacuate quickly?
- If we had to evacuate, would it be safe for our children to be outside for a sustained period?
- Would children with specific conditions i.e. Asthma, be safe outside for sustained periods?
- Could the emergency services reach us quickly if necessary?
- Does the weather during the day pose a risk for children not being collected due to families being delayed?
- Will staff be able to get home safely, considering too, that many have children who may be sent home from school early?
- Could opening school ultimately mean we place other services under further pressure by increasing traffic incidents when police have issued warnings not to travel?
- Can we provide warm meals?
- Do we place our school under pressure of criticism and injury claims?
Sometimes all these things are considered and we decide we can open and learning can continue. And then the boiler stops working ….