WINTER WEATHER AND SCHOOL CLOSURE PROCEDURES
On snow days the council will be updating the www.lbhf.gov.uk/snow page on a regular basis.
Warning of Severe Weather
Where possible, Children’s Services will provide information to schools in relation to any severe weather warnings that are received, using the normal communication channels.
However, schools may wish to keep themselves abreast of prevailing weather conditions by making use of the various media sources available including local radio and television as well as the following external website:
Heavy snowfall may cause disruption to road and rail transport, thereby preventing or reducing the ability of staff to attend their normal place of work.
All establishments should have plans in place for such eventualities and ensure that consideration is given to staff absence. Thought should be given to staffing levels so as to ensure the safety and well-being of children. Consideration should be given to the options available for ensuring adequate supervision takes place.
This can include internal cover arrangements, regrouping of pupils, changing or cancelling activities, the rotation of class supervision or partial closure of the establishment.
School Closure-Informing the local authority
Where staffing levels fall below a level considered suitable, or for other health and safety reasons, schools may need to consider the option of closing.
Hammersmith & Fulham Council has a duty to ensure that all relevant parties are aware when a school closes. As such, schools are required to adhere to the following procedure in the event of closure due to severe weather.
In the event of a school having to close due to severe weather conditions, a nominated person at that establishment must inform the local authority.
When the establishment re-opens after a severe weather closure, the person nominated should inform the local authority that the school has re-opened.
School Closure-Informing parents
Flora Gardens has in place appropriate procedures detailing the school closure arrangements in particular how to inform parents of closure and how to ensure the safe collection of children who are normally collected from school.
Clearing of Snow and Ice-School Grounds
The priority will be for clearing snow and applying salt/grit to the main access and egress pathway(s) to the establishment. Other priority areas such as escape routes and assembly points should also be cleared. The following may assist:
- Clear a path 1 metre wide from the site entrance to the main building entrance. Slopes and steps should be regarded as a priority.
- If slopes and steps remain in a dangerous condition, it may be necessary to prevent access to the affected area and use alternative routes.
- If time and salt supplies permit, other pathways to entrances and between buildings can be cleared and gritted.
- Car parks should not be treated as priority but pathways leading from car parks to the building should be dealt with as soon as possible.
Schools should have sufficient salt/grit so as to enable pathways etc to be kept clear for a period of five days.
Where the Headteacher or premises manager has concerns over the safety of certain external pathways, circulation routes, playgrounds etc, it may be appropriate for affected areas to be taken out of use. If there is a requirement to prevent access to paths, slopes, steps or other areas then this must be marked clearly using signs/cones/tape to ensure everyone is made aware.
Where playgrounds remain excessively slippery due to compacted snow and ice, it may be necessary for pupils to be accommodated indoors at break times. If playgrounds remain in use, supervision levels may need to be increased.
Winter conditions may also result in more water being trodden into buildings than is usual, make sure that floors are cleaned and dried or put some mats down at the main entrances to help control the risk of slipping.
If there is early warning of snow or icy conditions, Heads may wish to consider arranging for priority areas to be salted and gritted in advance, for example, during the previous evening or afternoon. Arrangements should be made for access routes to be inspected regularly following the salting and gritting to monitor its effectiveness.
It is suggested that inspections are done at the start of the day, before lunch and before the end of the working day.
Where practicable, all staff and pupils should be reminded of the need to wear appropriate warm and windproof clothing and non-slip footwear when coming to work in severe weather conditions, as it will seldom be possible to clear all snow and ice from a site. In particular, walking from a parked car to the nearest access path may be hazardous.
Clearing of Snow and Ice-Pavements
Hammersmith & Fulham Council, as part of its response to severe weather has developed a plan for gritting of roads and pavements that are deemed to be a priority.
As such, pavements outside of schools may not necessarily be salted or gritted by the Council.