Storm Ophelia: Schools expected to reopen on Wednesday

Second day of closures to allow for authorities to check for damage in buildings

Fallen trees in Sutton, Dublin. Schools will be closed for a second day in both the Republic and North on Tuesday.  Photograph:  Dara Mac Dónaill

Fallen trees in Sutton, Dublin. Schools will be closed for a second day in both the Republic and North on Tuesday. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Primary and secondary schools have been told to close for a second day on Tuesday but most are expected to reopen on Wednesday.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said it was to allow for authorities to check for damage in buildings and to check for health and safety issues.

It was primarily “in the interests of child safety and on the basis of information available in what is a developing situation”, the Department of Education said as it made the announcement.

The decision to close was made following “careful consideration” by the National Emergency Coordination Group.

The department said while it is recognised the decision to close schools will have a “major impact” on families and on the workforce, it has been taken “in the interests of safety for children and to provide clarity for everyone concerned”.

Without power

The department said while it is recognised that some schools may not be as badly impacted as others, there were hundreds of thousands of premises without power. “It is also the case that school authorities will in very many cases have not had an opportunity to check their buildings and confirm they are safe, have power and water, and that routes to the school are safely open,” it said in a statement.

Third-level institutions will decide themselves whether to open, “giving utmost consideration to safety of staff and students”, Minister for Education Richard Bruton said. The University of Limerick and NUI Galway were among the institutions to announce they would reopen.

Childcare providers must also decide themselves when to resume services with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs stating “safety must be the top consideration”.

“Assessments of buildings and other infrastructure should only be carried out when safe to do so. Local weather warnings should be observed at all times, as should local information on travel restrictions,” the Department of Children said.

Damaged

“The department is advising that funding for those services offering State schemes will continue to be provided for Tuesday 17th October, irrespective of whether they are in a position to reopen.”

Childcare providers whose premises have been damaged or are facing prolonged power outages are asked to advise their county childcare committees.

A spokeswoman for the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland said it is their understating that severe weather will not lead to extended school closures “and we expect schools to open on Wednesday”.

“It is inevitable that things like this happens, whether it’s to do with floods or heating which happen to interrupt the school day. However, teachers always do their best to stay on top of it and help with any preparation that can be put in place.”

All schools in Northern Ireland have been advised to remain closed on Tuesday.