‘Closing the school may be the right decision where the judgement is that students or staff face significant risk of serious injury in school or travelling to school'. (DfE)
‘Unless specifically told otherwise, staff will be expected to use their best endeavours to attend work without putting themselves or others at risk. When the police and motoring organisations, such as the AA, recommend that motorists undertake only essential journeys this is considered to include travel to work and school.’ (HCC)
The Headteacher, School Manager and Premises staff assess the situation in terms of health and safety. We also consult with other local schools. If conditions pose a significant risk, the school will close. There is a robust system for notifying families which includes:
News of any school closure or part school closure will be made available to parents via the school website, We will also send notification to parents and students via the regular ‘Schoolcomms’ communication system as well as updating our Facebook pages.
In addition St Albans Girls' School has a School Closure Notification System in place that lets parents know when school will be closed in severe weather conditions. To receive these messages by SMS or email, parents need to register here. This link will direct you to the Sign Up page where you should click on the 'sign up' button located at the top right hand side of the page on the grey strip and from there follow the instructions. It should take no more than five minutes to register and you can edit your information at any time should you change your mobile number or email address. Each contact within the system can have two devices added for each communication type if they wish to – this means that in addition to adding your own mobile number and email address, you could include the mobile number and email address of a partner or a grandparent in your registration process.
If a substantial amount of snow falls during the day senior staff may decide that the school day should be shortened so that staff and students can leave the site in order to get home in the daylight. School day times may alter – open later, have a shortened lunch and leave earlier.
When we remain open, risk assessments will be undertaken to ensure the health and safety of staff, students and all site users. Our premises staff have formulated an action plan which includes clearing and gritting paths and walkways.
There are a number of options which may be adopted, in the case of severe weather, to ensure continuity in teaching and learning for example:
- Certain classes may be asked to stay at home in a specific Key Stage
- The school is closed and all students will be given work using ICT, the work will be sent to staff for marking.
- School is open but there is a reduced number of staff. Classes may be reorganised with priority being given to exam classes
- For students not on site e-learning may be used. In advance departments will prepare work which can be delivered virtually.
The decision to close the school is complicated and not taken lightly; the information outlined here shows some of the strategies which will be used in the event of heavy snow.