When schools face closure due to bad weather – what’s the plan?

By Graham Hill

March 26, 2014

No school written in the snowWith the UK weather being more unpredictable every year, schools are having to make immediate decisions about if and when to close. Often this decision is made out of hours, long before staff have arrived causing a communication issue all round, and for the Head Teacher the knock on effects of last minute closure are many…
Notifying the right people, staff, students and parents promptly is vital if the Head wants to avoid situations that cause massive disruption, not just for the school, but for parents who are forced to make last minute childcare arrangements. The key in these situations is to have a robust, tested and approved plan in place that utilises the best and most reliable technology to speed the process up, and eliminate hassle. But whilst most schools will have a plan, it may not be effective, which leaves them unprepared and liable to confusion about what response mechanisms are in place.
And with many schools now having on average 1500 students how you get the right message to the right people… quickly really does matter. Consider the scenario that happens in many schools across the UK today – The day starts unexpectedly, its 6am and the approach road to the school is heavily iced, not safe enough to keep the school open. The Head decides to close, and may rely on sending an e-mail, but many staff and parents simply won’t see it in time, resulting in them turning up to a school already closed. Who would be responsible (or have the time) to make the call to everyone who may be affected? Should you rely on social media? And of course someone has to inform the local radio stations, but who is that person… and more importantly where are they?
It’s a headache for the Head that’s for certain, but it doesn’t have to be!
These situations CAN be managed with an effective plan, one that every member of staff is aware of, understands and has practised. And there IS technology out there to make sure this plan works and is foolproof – every time. Announcement systems like EDGE-Care automatically deliver a message to everyone who needs to know about the situation as it arises. So when the Head makes the decision to close the school, he doesn’t need to worry about communication chaos, but can concentrate efforts on resolving the issue at hand instead. This has to be a better use of time surely!
What are your experiences of dealing with school closures and how do you think the processes should best be managed?

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