There was not enough time for schools to put remote learning options in place ahead of Storm Barra, the Education Minister has told Newstalk Breakfast.
Schools in 12 counties have been advised to remain closed today with Orange and Red wind warnings in place.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Education Minister Norma Foley said thousands of schools have been advised to close.
“We have taken this action really on foot of a very significant, very serious and potentially very sever storm weather warning form Met Éireann,” she said.
“They do forecast high winds, heavy rainfall, risk of snow, risk of flooding, not to mention of course the potential for fallen trees and other structural damage.
“We are looking at in or around approximately 2,500 schools being stood down.”
She said Met Éireann has warned that the Orange warnings could be escalated to red during the day.
“It would always be the case that schools in red areas would automatically be stood down but it is the advice from Met Éireann that it is likely that for those that now find themselves in an orange alert area, that that status will throughout the day perhaps revert to a red status.
“So, in the interest of health and safety and the protection of the entire school community we have taken that decision.”
Minister Foley said there was not enough time for schools to put remote learning options in place.
“To be fair, I suppose all of the information with regard to the potential severity of this storm and the need to take action really only came into being yesterday afternoon, yesterday evening,” she said.
“So given the notice period which was short really for our schools – I would imagine all of them had already closed given the notice period – it is not a requirement that teaching and learning would take place via remote.
“However, I am aware that many schools have been in a position, even at that short notice, to put it in place.
“As I say, given that they envisage that this will be a one-day event and given the short notice, it is not a requirement.”
Health and safety
She said schools will not need to make up the time for students.
“This, to be fair, is an extreme weather event,” she said. “It is likely to be a one-day event. It is a measure that is unpredictable.
“We are conscious that we are doing the right thing. It is a question of health and safety.
“I know it discommodes parents and indeed students but it is at the end of the day our key priority that everybody within the education sector would be safe and would be secure and so for that reason we have taken this measure. It is not likely that this day will have to be made up.
“It is an extreme weather event. It was not preventable.”