All schools in Northern Ireland “should close” tomorrow (Monday).
That was the directive from an official statement issued through the Northern Ireland Executive tonight (Sunday).
It said: “The Department of Education has advised that all schools should close tomorrow (Monday 16 October).
“This is entirely precautionary, however given the weather warnings and the fact that the most severe weather is forecast for when pupils are due to be leaving school, the Department believes that this is an appropriate response.
“A regional meeting of multi-agency emergency responders met this evening to discuss a co-ordinated approach in light of the latest Met Office assessment. Key statutory agencies will continue to monitor the situation as it unfolds and are prepared to respond as appropriate.”
There had been some confusion over an NI Executive tweet which states schools “should close” with parents insisting it is not clear whether schools will automatically close or it is a recommendation to each school and the decision rests with them.
Parents would be best checking with their individual schools to clarify what action is being taken.
Most have been making contact via text and social media updates to state their own positions.
Already, Southern Regional College has said it has “no plans to close the college tomorrow” despite the NI Executive statement.
“We will continue to monitor the weather conditions carefully and, if a decision to change our normal college day is made, a message will be sent via Facebook, text and posted on our website,” it confirmed via social media this evening.
The Executive statement, meanwhile, urges public caution tomorrow.
It adds: “It is important members of the public take care to protect themselves and their property from the effects of the strong winds. It is also likely that there will be some disruption to traffic and travel. For information on traffic and travel go to: www.trafficwatchni.com.
“More detailed information on keeping safe and useful contact numbers is available on the nidirect.gov.uk website at: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/
“The public are reminded to monitor the Met Office forecasts for their area and to be aware of the weather conditions and to heed safety warnings.
“Emergency responders will continue to monitor this developing situation and issue further information as appropriate.”
Members of the public should note the following numbers in case of emergency:
- Emergency services – 999 or 112
- Housing Executive – 03448 920 901
- Northern Ireland Electricity Networks – 03457 643 643
- NI Gas Emergency Service – 0800 002 001
- Northern Ireland Water Waterline – 03457 440 088
- Flooding Incident Line – 0300 2000 100
Ophelia is due to cause major disruption across the country tomorrow but it will not be until mid-afternoon before the full force is felt locally.
The Met Office has issued a series of weather warnings for strong winds for tomorrow and Tuesday.
These include an amber wind warning for Northern Ireland for Monday as ex-Hurricane Ophelia passes through. This alert will be in effect from 3pm until 10pm.