Tuesday 20 March 2018

Blanket closure was a huge burden on parents

Stock picture
Stock picture

Donal O’Donovan

We have a lot to be grateful for, especially those of us in Dublin where the storm passed with little effect. Still, it was hard to suppress annoyance stepping out into yesterday's clear, sunny weather with two small children tripping over themselves with delight at not having to go to school.

The blanket closure of all schools yesterday, even those in counties where the storm left little or no damage, was over the top. For those of us juggling full-time work and small children, every new day throws up challenges - and an unplanned day off school is a major spanner in the works. Forty years ago, when most families had a parent or grandparent at home, it wouldn't have been such a big deal. Today it sparks a mad scramble to find alternatives.

For households where both parents work, or there's only one parent and they work, shutting schools at short notice can have major consequences. Even for those with flexible employers, the stress and disruption is bad enough. For those who don't, it can be a huge blow.

Education authorities should only pull the trigger in extreme circumstances. When shutting schools is justified on safety grounds, it's a price worth paying. Yesterday it simply wasn't.

We have a lot to be grateful for. No child was badly hurt, and none killed.

That was in part because many of us accepted the Government's simple and repeated message to stay in until the storm had passed. The decision to shut all schools on Monday was key to that.

Irish Independent

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