School Emergency Closures
In certain circumstances that qualify as emergencies such as bad weather - snow or high winds, heating failures, power cut or fire etc, schools can be closed.
Severe Weather: School Closures Procedure
Throughout the winter months, October – March, two officers are always on duty to monitor weather conditions. During the day, evidence is gathered about forecasts and road conditions to assess if the schools or transport may be affected.
When forecasts predict severe weather, duty officers liaise the day before and use the following process:
- OIC Roads Team and Kirkwall Police are contacted at 6am for detailed information on local conditions. Weather forecasts for the day ahead are also checked and reviewed.
- All mainland transport conveyors are contacted for reports on their routes and to obtain their decisions as to whether they will be operating school transport. Isles head teachers contact the island conveyors for route reports and their decisions on operating school transport.
- All head teachers are contacted and given local weather and forecast information. Mainland head teachers are also provided with their conveyor reports.
- It is then the decision of each head teacher to either open or close their school, based on health and safety grounds and information provided by duty officers. They must take into account transport provision, local weather conditions, weather forecast and staff availability. In all decisions, the safety of the children is paramount.
- Decisions and information are communicated as shown below.
How to get Information about School Closures
School closure information is passed onto BBC Radio Orkney (found at 93.7 FM) and broadcasted on the show at 07:30.
This information is also provided on the OIC answer phone from 07:30 which is reached by calling the Council's main switchboard number 01856873535.
Regular updates are now available via OIC's Twitter and Facebook alerts. To find out more, visit our OIC School Transport Facebook page, available from the Related Links section on the left. You don't need to sign up to Twitter or Facebook to view the information, but you can subscribe to Twitter and receive school closure updates direct to your mobile phone if you wish. Just follow the directions on the Twitter page and be sure to check with your mobile provider what charges might apply to you.
Closures During the School Day
It is important that parents are familiar with their child’s school emergency closure procedures. Parents should ensure that the school has the correct emergency contact numbers on file and that mobiles are switched on so parents can be contacted. Contact your school to find out more - school contact details can be found in the Related Links menu on the left of this page.
Teachers have pre-prepared materials for pupils to either keep at home or access through GLOW if their school has to close.
Disruptions to School Transport in bad weather
While every effort is made to inform parents of school closures in bad weather as early as possible, it's not possible - due to the sheer volume of routes involved and changing conditions - for the Council to advise if individual school bus routes are running.
Parents are best placed to know the road conditions in their area and this should guide their decision whether to put their child out for school transport, and how long to wait. Parents should make sure their children are suitably dressed for the weather, and know what to do if their bus does not arrive.
Advice for parents:
- Listen to Radio Orkney at 07:30 each morning to find out up to date information on school closures. You can also contact the Council on 873535 to hear a recorded information message;
- Remember you are responsible for your children until they have boarded school transport each morning and from the moment they alight from the afternoon journey;
- At times of severe weather conditions, agree with your children a length of time (i.e. 20 minutes) that they should wait for their bus before returning or phoning home if it doesn’t arrive;
- You are responsible for the afternoon journey home if you decide to put your child to school when the morning bus journey is cancelled;
- Make sure your child’s school has up to date emergency contact details for you and that you are contactable i.e. mobile phones are switched on;
- Educate your child on the importance of crossing the road safely and being seen in the dark. Make sure they are dressed in adequate clothing. Remember, be safe, be seen, be warm.
- The Council’s OIC School Transport Facebook page provides updates where possible about school closures, starting with information on Kirkwall Grammar School for pupils travelling early, followed by updates on other schools - there's a link to this Facebook page in the 'Related Sites' section of this page.
- Parents might also want to keep a watch on Radio Orkney’s Facebook page.