Today’s decision to close all schools and University College Isle of Man (UCM) was based on advice that a safe and timely school bus service could not be provided, following a detailed assessment of road conditions by Isle of Man Transport.
The decision to close schools is taken by the Minister for Education, Sport and Culture after considering advice from the Met Office, Isle of Man Transport, the Department of Infrastructure’s highways services and the Department of Home Affairs’ Emergency Planning Unit.
Having first been suspended, some public buses were able to run along certain routes as conditions improved during the morning rush hour period, but the majority remained inaccessible. Regular assessments were undertaken and services resumed as road conditions improved.
In line with existing protocol, a decision to whether schools are to close will be made wherever possible by 7.30am, to provide parents and school staff sufficient time to rearrange their work and childcare plans.
Minister Graham Cregeen MHK said:
‘The decision to close schools, after snowfall has had a varied impact on different parts of the Island, is a complex one. Our overriding concern is that children and staff can safely travel to and from school. We are conscious that a number of staff live some distance from their school.
‘Following this morning’s changing conditions, I called a meeting of all agencies involved to review protocols, as we do after every similar event. The decision-making process has been brought forward by 15 minutes, and in view of the ongoing bad weather forecast, I expect to make public any decision regarding school closures tomorrow by 7.30am.’
The Minister added:
‘I am keenly aware this can be a frustrating time for parents and businesses. Closing schools and UCM is not a decision the Department takes lightly, and on any given day, the decision may not be universally popular. I have to act based on available information.’