This was the view outside my bedroom window just after 8 this morning – a street covered by lots of snow which fell overnight, on top of snow which fell yesterday afternoon.
College has been closed today for the second day – not sure about tomorrow yet. There’s no more significant snow forecast but it is due to go down to -8 tonight, and any snow thats on the ground will freeze… I hope the heating works!
Throughout Gloucestershire, over 296 of the 308 state-run schools are closed. There are many people who critisise this, with some listeners to BBC Radio Gloucestershire e-mailing in to day that back in “their day”, they went to school, and did a little bit of work with everyone in the schools’ main halls and maybe only 2 or 3 teachers were in.
However, as mid-morning presenter John Rockley said in response, things have changed. These days, schools have a legal responsibility to make sure there are enough staff to care for the pupils – a teacher:pupil ratio – and if that ratio can’t be met, the schools have no option but to close. To open with fewer staff than the set ratio of teachers:pupils would be a danger to the pupils – and there probably wouldn’t be enough staff to teach the lessons.
In addition, the teachers don’t always live in their schools’ areas. Whilst they may be accessible by pupils who probably live in the same town, or the same village, there’s no point going if there’s no one to teach them! Even if the roads are running well, many pupils walk to school, and the pavements won’t have been gritted and they will be slippery.
That may be OK for some adults, who are (generally) sensible… there are some who aren’t but lets not go there, but walking to school with a 4-year old in the snow probably isn’t a very sensible idea. That 4 year old will probably try and run the whole way (as is normal with very young children) if given the chance… and if not that, they will want to play in the snow and won’t be very happy about going in to school.
At the other end of the scale, many 16, 17 and 18 year olds (those doing AS and A levels) make their own way to school and college. They will probably be slightly more sensible (ish) in the snow – but have further to walk or cycle. Look again at the photo at the top – the pavement is just as hidden as the road. I have several streets worth of that sort of pavement between my house and the main road – that takes me about 5-10 minutes on a normal day. Slightly longer on a day like this, and if it freezes it’ll be worse. After that, there’s a further 30 minute walk to college (and thats on a normal day).
I don’t like planning too far ahead and leaving too early for things, but if college decides to open I think I’ll have to leave much earlier tomorrow morning and walk slowly. In this sort of weather, no where is impossible to get to: its just a case of travelling at the right pace. If it takes me double the time to get to college tomorrow, thats OK and certainly better than trying to travel at the normal speed and injuring myself by falling over on ice…
Now: here are some more photos. Click on them to view some descriptions and comments.