NEWS
31/01/2019 10:21 GMT

School Snow Closures: Everything You Need To Know

Including what to do with your kids on their day off.

For kids, having a snow day is often a highlight of the school year. But parents have to think about childcare, time off work and what they’re going to do with the day.

Since snow has hit the UK, mums and dads have been bracing themselves for school closures over the next week. So what are the rules when your kid has a snow day? Enter: the bumper guide for parents. 

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How To Find Out If Your Child’s School Is Closed

Each school will have different ways of communicating whether they will be closed, but you can head to the government’s website as a central place to find out. 

Go to the school closures site here and enter your postcode. It will take you to the school closure notices for each local council. The site might tell you to contact your school directly, or state whether or not the school is closed. Some schools may communicate additionally via social media pages about closures, so it’s worth checking there too. 

Can I Take Time Off Work If My Child Has A Snow Day?

As a working parent, the fun is taken out of snow days when you realise you may need to arrange childcare or get time off work. However, you are entitled to take time off work to sort this out.

Tracey Moss, employment expert at Citizens Advice told HuffPost UK: “If your child’s school is closed because of snow, you have the right to take emergency time off to make other arrangements, which is known as ‘Dependant Leave’.

“You are entitled to take a reasonable amount of time to deal with the emergency, for example, a few hours to arrange for a family member to take care of the child, but you must let your employer know as soon as possible.

“Although an employer can’t refuse to let you take Dependant Leave, they might be worried about the effect on the business, so you ought to recognise this and make clear you have no option, that you will only take the necessary time and that you will keep in touch.”

[Read More: Can you take a day off if you can’t get to work? Your rights in the snow explained]

She continued: “If you can’t make alternative arrangements and have to take care of your child yourself, this will also count as Dependant Leave.”

You should check with your employer to see what their approach is, but usually you will not be entitled to be paid for this day.  However, Moss explained you cannot be sacked or treated badly for taking this time off, as long as you can show that you only took what was reasonable and necessary.

“You will only be protected against disciplinary action if you can show that you only took the time off that was necessary and reasonable to deal with the emergency,” she added.

“It might be a problem later if it can be shown that you could have made alternative childcare arrangements but chose to stay at home while the school was closed.”

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What Can I Do With My Child On A Snow Day?

Depending on the age of your child and the time of year, some schools may require pupils to complete tasks for the day while they are at home. It’s best to contact your school directly to find out if this is needed.

Other than that, it’s very much up to you how you spend a snow day with your child. Here are a few ideas from parents on Mumsnet.

Get their homework done.

It might sound boring, but rather than squeezing in that science project between dinner time and bed time, get them to do it in the day to avoid last-minute panic.

Get out in the snow, obviously.

“We are going to make snowmen and have a snowball fight,” one person wrote. “We might as well make the most of it. Although my kids will get bored after an hour and probably snuggle on the sofa.”

Give them time for self care.

With tonnes of plans on the weekend, having a day off for your child to recuperate and relax might be just what they need.

One person wrote: “I’ll be letting my son have some self-care time on the sofa with a blanket, we’ve had visitors all weekend and it’s been non-stop!”

Get them to be your work assistant for the day.

Still got chores to be getting on with or shopping to get done?

“I have a personal assistant for the day helping me with admin (shopping lists), tidying (putting his toys away) and cooking (finding a recipe in the cookbook),” one person wrote.

What do you do with your kids on a snow day? Let us know in the comments below.