Many schools to close for rest of week as snow shows no let-up
SOME schools could be closed for the rest of the week, as the icy weather tightens its grip.
Hundreds of primary and post-primary schools didn't open yesterday because of the hazardous conditions.
And, with no let-up in the weather expected for several days, extended school closures are on the cards in many areas.
Schools take decisions to close on health and safety grounds and/or because of travel difficulties encountered by pupils and staff.
Bus Eireann, which carries 135,000 pupils every day, cancelled many services yesterday because of the conditions on secondary and minor roads.
The company announced that it expects further disruption to school buses today. Local inspectors consult with schools to assess the situation in each area.
School boards of management have the discretion as to whether to close their school based on local circumstances, and use local radio stations and text messaging to communicate with parents.
The Department of Education said in "making these decisions, schools should consider such issues as access and safety and co-ordinate their approach with other schools in the locality where feasible".
The department is monitoring the situation and has not issued any direction that all schools should close.
A department spokesperson said further advice would be provided as circumstances warrant.
The north-west was one of the worst affected areas of the country yesterday and about 200 schools in Donegal, Leitrim and Sligo closed their doors as icy conditions made travelling hazardous away from the main routes.
Up to 80 primary and second level schools across Donegal alone remained closed as did up to a dozen playgroups.
Indications last night were that many of the schools and playgroups would remain closed for the coming days.
In Sligo and Leitrim, a similar picture emerged with up to 100 primary and second level schools announcing their closure and school bus companies issuing notice that they were not operating.
Icy conditions forced many schools in Kerry to stay shut yesterday and other parts of the country with widespread closures included the the north-east, Wicklow and Wexford.
When schools are forced to close because of unforeseen circumstances there is a general expectation that they will make up the lost days at a later time in the year.
However, in exceptional circumstances they can apply to the department for an exemption from that requirement, such as what happened earlier this year when last winter's big freeze caused some schools to close for extended periods.