Snow brings early end to school term
CHRISTMAS came early at schools all around the country yesterday, as the extreme weather forced holidays to begin sooner than usual.
Many schools closed early yesterday and announced they would not be re-opening until January 10.
This week's closures means that thousands of pupils have lost 15 or more days' tuition in a month. This is the fourth week of the Arctic weather and many schools have only managed to open for a few days or a week since November 29, when it took a grip. Schools were supposed to be open up to and including tomorrow before the Christmas break.
Rural schools have been badly affected by hazardous conditions on secondary and minor roads, which have not been gritted, preventing school buses from running.
The heavy snow on the east coast yesterday made life very difficult for schools in Dublin and other major urban centres. Some schools that opened were disrupted by parents arriving to take their children home early.
Among the schools will extend Christmas holidays are Hollypark Boys' National School, Blackrock, Co Dublin; Presentation Primary School, Terenure, Dublin; and several in Co Kerry and Co Louth.
The Department of Education asked school managers on Monday whether they would consider varying the dates for the holidays, on an individual basis, to make up for lost days.
However, there is little appetite among schools for bringing forward the official start of the new term.
The Irish National Teachers' Organisation said it was impossible to say what weather conditions would be like in early January, which made talk of reopening schools earlier premature and speculative.
There is also little enthusiasm in schools for shortening the mid-term break in February, or the Easter holidays, because staff or parents may already have made commitments.
However, the issue of weather is certain to feature in New Year discussions on the Standardised School Year -- which fixes the dates for holidays -- for 2011/12 and beyond.