School holidays at risk to make up for snow break
TEACHERS and pupils may have to make up for their unscheduled pre-Christmas "snow break" by cutting short the February midterm or Easter holidays.
The Department of Education has called teachers and school managers to talks to discuss how to make up time lost because of the severe weather.
The move came as it emerged that bad weather is now starting to play havoc with the Leaving Certificate exams schedule.
An early schools re-opening after Christmas is regarded as impractical because there is no guarantee that the weather will have improved, while parents and staff may have holiday commitments.
But the department says other elements of the Standardised School Year -- which dictates the dates for the February midterm and Easter breaks -- must be considered.
Some pupils have lost 15 days, or even more, as a result of the snow and ice that has gripped the country with little interruption since the end of November.
The department yesterday arranged talks for early January in a bid to find a solution to the lost tuition time, which will have a particularly bad impact on exam classes. Because of the wide variation in the way the weather has impacted on schools, different solutions will apply in individual schools.
Meanwhile, the State Examinations Commission yesterday put back the deadline for submission of a practical project for the Leaving Cert design and communications graphics exam. The original completion date of mid-January has been now been extended to February 18 to give students more time to finish their work.
The student assignment, which involves both a bound portfolio and an individual CD, must be completed in school under supervision.
Schools have a very tight schedule in the run-up to the exams and that delay will have a knock-on effect on other work planned by teachers and students, who expected to be clear of the project on January 14.
Some students have projects to hand in for other subjects -- such as Leaving Certificate engineering, due on March 4 -- while the oral and practical exams start on April 4.
Meanwhile, school insurer Allianz has warned that closed schools are vulnerable to the extreme weather.
The company has told school managers that they must carry out daily inspections to check for weather-related problems.