Emergency School Closures
As a reminder to colleagues who have used the Emergency School Closures System on Calderdale Councils’ web site before and to those colleagues who are new to Calderdale this year, may I provide you with the details if you are faced with having to make the difficult decision to close the school unexpectedly.
It is recognised that the number of organisations and persons that need to be informed first thing in the morning when a school closes is very demanding; therefore, in order to ease the workload, our Emergency School Closures system can be used to inform various organisations and partners.
Each Headteacher has been given a secure password and login to Calderdale Council’s website. You must visit http://www.calderdale.gov.uk/education/closures/logins/index.jsp to access the login
screen. Your login will be an email address, preferably one that you can access from both school and home in case of forgotten passwords that need a reminder. It is advisable to save this portal
address to ‘my favourites’ on your pc/laptop at home and work.
On successful login, you can change the operational status of the school to either closed, confirmed open or partly closed. You then enter a reason for closure (if applicable). If you are aware of a reason to close the school in advance (ie major building works), you can set an effective date to close and reopen. Leave this field blank if you are entering the details on the same day of closure. Finally, there is a free text box allowing up to 250 characters where you can add any comments, which proved extremely useful during the adverse weather in 2010 and last year. Please note, that any comments raised in this field has no ownership to the Council. All comments are the responsibility of the School/Establishment.
Once you have clicked on submit, the operational status will change from the default ‘no information provided’ to whatever you have entered and appear as live information on www.calderdale.gov.uk. This also triggers an automated email to BBC Radio Leeds, The Pulse radio, Phoenix FM, Metro, First Bus, Calderdale Transport Services and Calderdale Access Team, so there is no need to make an extra phone call or find yourselves on hold whilst trying to get through to the busy switchboard at the radio stations. The above services have asked to be included in any emails and welcome this as being the way of being informed. Please note that only notifications of closures are forwarded to the radio stations. If there are any other persons or organisations you wish to notify by the same automated email, please let me know. This feature can be organised per individual school or en mass.
If you make the decision of the school’s status the day before (in the event of prolonged adverse weather), the operational status can be entered on to the system and the new operational status will be displayed from 6pm the evening before. This way, parents, carers and the general public are made aware in advance so they can organise childcare if required and do not have to wait until the morning to find out. The radio stations and transport will be informed the same way. If the system is not used, the operational status reverts back to the default message ‘no information provided’ at 6pm for the following day.As this system is internet based, it can be accessed anywhere where there is internet access, so for colleagues who commute a considerable distance to school, the decision can be input from home if required.Once any school has used the system to announce their operational status in the event of snow or a flood, a message will appear on the front page of the web site which links to the closures section. Where there is an element of doubt, in particular, snow, and the school is remaining open, please use the system to confirm that the school is open.This is the preferred and only method of informing the Local Authority when a school intends to close unexpectedly. To set a new login, you can call me during office hours on the number above. I am available out of hours for emergencies only on 07824 835421. (Please note, I cannot reset passwords out of hours, therefore please ensure you have your password at home. The system does allow you to have a reminder sent to your email address). It is advisable to register more than one nominated user to have rights to report a school closure, please let me know who else you want to grant access to.This information is useful to include in the School Emergency Plan, (page 19, of the Calderdale Schools Emergency Plan template). If you need an emergency plan/business continuity template, please let me know and I will email a copy.
Advice on Transport Services
In the event of bad weather, Metro is able to offer advice on school bus services. Please contact them on 0113 348 1122. Also First Calderline on 0845 026 0099 (calls charged at local rate) will advise on the running of general and school bus services. Any operational problems throughout the year can be referred directly to Metro.
Where children with special educational needs are transported to a mainstream school, Transport Services at Battinson Road or individual Taxi providers will make the decision as to whether transport should be run early to take children home. This will involve the Access Team contacting the appropriate mainstream school Headteachers who need to make arrangements to advise parents and ensure that parents will be available.
If there is a risk that pupils may face extended journeys due to poor weather conditions or heavy traffic the following actions would be advised:
Ensure pupils are encouraged/given the opportunity to use the toilets before leaving school for the journey home.
Provide a drink and snack in case it is needed during the journey.
Provide a blanket or ensure the pupil has a suitable coat to keep them warm.
Phone parents/carers to explain their child may be late home.
If you have concerns about any pupils on specialist transport getting home due to conditions worsening during the school day please ring the Access Team on 01422 392749/542/531 to request transport to be sent early.
You should check that a suitable adult will be at home to receive the pupil prior to doing this.
Please consider that looked after children often have to make fairly long journeys to and from school, poor weather conditions can result in transport times being in excess of 2 hours.
In addition, there are certain schools in the Hebden Bridge area which are served by transport from the rural areas, such as Hardcastle Craggs, who have a contingency arrangement whereby parents advise the contractor(s) of local conditions. When transport is required to take children home early in an afternoon because of worsening conditions, Headteachers will be asked to allow these children to leave school at the agreed time.
I trust the above is helpful. However, should you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact me or if you have a query regarding School transport, please contact Michelle Small in the Access Team on 01422 392531.