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Emergency School Closure

UNICEF Convention on the Rights of Children Article 3
 (The best interests of the child must be a top priority in all
     actions concerning children)


All actions taken will be in the best interests of the whole school community and in accordance with the Winter Planning Guidance for Kent Schools (www.kent.gov.uk).

 

Introduction

 

It may be necessary to close school for a variety of reasons including:

 

• Severe weather including snow, flooding or storms
• Disruption to transport, for example through petrol or diesel shortages
• Accommodation problems, for example loss of power supply, heating failures or fire damage
• Health reasons, for example a flu epidemic

 

School should, however, endeavour to remain open where possible.  School contingency plans should be passed on to staff, parents and pupils.

 

Closure Due to Severe Weather

 

The decision to close a school will normally rest with the Headteacher and be confirmed with the Chair of Governors or if he is unavailable the Vice Chair.  The decision should be made where possible before 7.00 a.m. and on the  basis of information received from the media about weather, supplemented by on the spot observational either personally or from staff members better placed to make such observations and through appropriate external agencies such as the Met. Office.

 

Factors involved in reaching the decision to close the school are likely to be:

 

• Access to the school, i.e. road conditions (obstructions, snow, ice, flooding, etc)
• Breakdown of school essential services (heating, electrical services, water, storm damage, etc)
• Inadequate staff ratios to operate safely

 

The Headteacher will advise staff and Governors through the “Snowline” and advise parents and pupils to check the school website (www.stone.kent.sch.uk), listen to local radio stations and monitor their website details of any closures will be published:

 

• BBC Radio Kent 96.7/104.2 FM – www.bbc.co.uk/kent
• Heart FM (was Invicta) 103.1/102.8 FM – www.heart.co.uk/kent
 www.kent.gov.uk/winter

 

The whole school community, including the After School Service, should be made regularly aware of this procedure as incidents can occur with little or no warning.

 

During School Day Closure Guidance

 

On occasions it may be necessary for school to close during the school day, i.e. if the weather is deteriorating and there is doubt as to whether children can be returned home later in the day.  In such cases schools need to ensure that children are collected from school.  The school will use available contact numbers via email and text messaging services.

 

Staff Attendance

 

Although it is recognised that severe weather conditions make it difficult for staff to get to and from work, unless advised to the contrary by the Headteacher, then the expectation is that staff will present themselves for work.  If our school is closed it is expected that staff report to a school near them that is open whenever safely possible.

Contract Staff (Catering and Cleaning Services) also need to be advised of any emergency requirements.

 

Clearance of Snow

 

Within the school site, the school is responsible for snow clearance and the clearing of approach paths is the specific task of the Site Officer.  When severe weather is forecast, the Site Officer should be tasked to lay salt and grit on arrival.

 

Parents are asked to offer support in severe weather to clear pathways.

 

The clearance of public roads is the responsibility of the Highways Department.

 

If there is any question of children’s safety being at risk, for instance if they are let out at break time and the playground area is unsafe, school has a responsibility in inclement weather to keep the children indoors.

 

In the Event of School Being Closed

 

If school is closed it is the responsibility of the Headteacher to ensure that the following events happen:

 

• The decision is ratified with the Chair or Vice Chair of Governors/KCC
• The school website is updated
• The Snowline is activated
• The information is passed to relevant media agencies as soon as possible
• The school office answer phone is amended to as short closure message (when possible)
• Notices are placed on both school entrances advising visitors, parents and pupils that school is closed (when possible)
• School is appropriately staffed by teachers/teaching assistants and Governors to deal with any pupils who arrive at school unescorted until parents or emergency contacts can collect the pupils

 

These tasks do not all have to be completed by the Headteacher, although they have the overall responsibility for ensuring each has been carried out.


February 2012

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