Schools won’t have to open for extra days after Ophelia closures

Primary schools are required to open for 183 days in each school year, and second-level schools for 167 days, but flexibility is allowed for making up time lost to unforeseen closures, writes Niall Murray.

A department spokesperson told the Irish Examiner that schools will not be directed to open an extra two days, or other additional days lost because of Monday’s storm.

Instead, schools are being referred to guidance on contingency arrangements about closures caused by unforeseen circumstances.

School principal JIm Long in the damaged sports hall at Douglas Community School.

The first action should be to determine the effect of lost teaching time and to ensure the curriculum for each class can be completed by the end of the school year. However, before considering shortening the February mid-term or Easter holidays, a number of measures can first be examined.

The possible ways of making up lost teaching time should be discussed, such as prioritising teaching over non-tuition activities, reducing the school exams timetable, or considering if classroom learning should be prioritised over school tours or other activities.

Second-level schools might also discuss ensuring students preparing for Junior or Leaving Certificate exams attend classes to the end of May.

Schools can also check if there are discretionary days when they had planned to close, on which they might now be able to remain open. However, this could create difficulties if parents or staff had made plans for those dates. Where these measures are not enough to make up lost teaching time, a school may decide to alter holidays in February or at Easter, if school transport arrangements are feasible.

If this is necessary, the options are to take up to three days out of the February mid-term, or some or all of the first three days of the Easter holidays, due to begin on March 26, 2018.

The mid-term is scheduled for the week of February 12 to 16 for second-level schools. Primary schools must close on the Thursday and Friday of that week, but have the option to close for the entire week if they have built up discretionary days.

This article first appeared on the Irish Examiner.

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