Isn’t it funny how a bit of snow can cause such panic!
Today we closed school early due to a minor weather change – we got some snow. This doesn’t happen a lot in Blackpool, UK so it was a bit of a novelty for staff, parents and children.
Making the decision to close however is a tricky one. Firstly you have to consider the H&S side of things, were the paths and playgrounds going to be too slippy? Were the roads going to present a problem for staff and parents? Would everyone be able to get home etc..?
We checked all was good, staff arrived safely (although one was delayed due to a bump ahead) parents dropped off excited children and all seemed to be as expected. We cancelled playtimes due to icy ground underfoot on the yards but each class went out onto the field to enjoy the snow.
At this stage we had no thought of closing school as most of the initial hurdles had been cleared. A further downfall caused us to re assess the situation but once again, we felt it was going to be best to stay open until 3.30 as normal.
Towards the end of the morning one or two members of staff started to ask about getting home and what our plan was – the plan was to stay open, obviously! However some people had a fair distance to travel and there was obvious concern over getting home. We decided it might be prudent to release these people before conditions got too bad. We felt we could cover their teaching commitments internally. Parents by this time were ringing in ever increasing numbers – some insisting they would like to come and collect their children asap as other schools locally were closing and their siblings would be going home. Older brothers and sisters from neighbouring high schools began to turn up after their schools had closed and more staff began to voice concerns.
It then became clear that a majority were in favour of early closure (probably the vast majority in terms of children!) We sent a text message to all parents and informed local radio that we would close at 1.30 although some staff would remain at school until 3.30.
How did parents view this? Most recognised it was probably the best thing to do given the unpredictability of the weather and the lack of gritting on the roads. Some I’m sure would have been inconvenienced and found it difficult to get to school or arrange pick up.
What have we learnt? Well I think we have a more up to date database of contact numbers now! We know that a bit a snow can cause major panic – particularly if you haven’t had any for a few years. We know children love snow and memories of today will last a long, long time and we also know that some staff worry about how they are going to get home almost as soon as they arrive at school!