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Parents Choosing to Keep Children Home from School During Storms: Is it Worth the Risk?

“My 15-year-old daughter asked this morning if I could take her to school, because it was going to be very stormy. But I thought: no, you stay at home,” Melissa (not her real name) tells RTL News. For privacy reasons, she only wants to tell her story anonymously.

Risk too great

Melissa is one of the parents who say on Facebook that they are keeping their child at home because of the storm. They think the risk of something happening is too great. “According to the KNMI, there were heavy gusts of wind from 10 a.m., and from 2 p.m. the wind was blowing 100 to 110 kilometers per hour,” says Melissa.

“During the previous storm last summer, a woman died in Haarlem because a tree fell on her car during a storm and our fence and thick trees in the street were blown over. I am responsible for the safety of my daughter, not the school.”

When asked whether keeping children at home can cause problems for parents, the response is unequivocal: that chance is small. The decision whether children can stay at home or not is made per school.

“The decision to agree to this is up to the director,” says a spokesperson for Ingrado, the trade association for compulsory education officers. “Safety always comes first for a school. You can assume that schools and parents will reach a solution together.”

No rules for that

This is also said by a spokesperson for the VO council. “I do not expect that a school attendance officer will be called in quickly if parents do not allow their child to go to school for one day for this reason. Unless, perhaps, those parents keep their children at home all the time.”

The municipality of Rotterdam confirms this. “If there are at least 16 hours of unauthorized absence in four weeks, schools will report this. We have not received a report yet today.”

“It is tailor-made,” says Steven Tan. He is a member of the executive board of ASKO, a school umbrella organization in Amsterdam with 35 schools. “Our policy is that in case of code orange, we can discuss what the best solution is. Code orange now applies from 2 p.m. in Amsterdam. For example, are parents able to pick up their child from school, or do they come in? the problems with their work or other obligations? We will take that into account.”

‘It’s autumn’

Omar Ramadan, chairman of the board of directors of the Sophia Schools Foundation in the Bollenstreek, is slightly stricter. “It’s autumn in the Netherlands, so storms are just part of it,” he says. The 28 schools that are members of the foundation all apply the same policy: with code orange, like today, we remain open but do not do outdoor activities, with code red we close. “There is now a warning not to go on the road if it is not necessary, but school is necessary.”

“I want to prevent everyone from pretending to be a meteorologist and who knows the weather. We are not, neither is the school, nor are parents. If parents keep their child at home today, they will not immediately have a serious conversation about it with them.” “But if it happens more often and for the slightest thing, we will of course do it.”

Melissa politely called her daughter’s school this morning to explain. “But I only got a receptionist on the phone. She said that my daughter was ‘expected’ at school. But everyone who could give an opinion on this was absent.”

Had that person been there, I would have explained my position and listened to the school’s position, she says. “Maybe my daughter would have gone to school until 9.30 am, so that she would have returned home on time. But I would not have let her have a longer day. She has now missed one listening test, but she will catch up later. And if If there is no more storm tomorrow, she will simply go back to school.”

2023-11-02 14:32:51


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