Parents angry at timing of school snow closures

Head teacher Bronwen Hughes
Head teacher Bronwen Hughes defended the council's decision to shut schools after the amber weather warning

Parents in a Welsh county have vented their frustration at the decision to close all schools before any snow had fallen, despite an amber warning.

Seventy-eight schools shut in Flintshire as the warning for snow and ice came into effect.

The warning is in place for parts of mid and north Wales from 08:00 GMT until 15:00 on Thursday.

Six schools in Powys took the decision to close, and the council cancelled school transport in the north of the county, while one school in Wrexham shut for the day.

Traffic Wales warned people of delays on the A55 due to heavy snowfall late on Thursday morning.

Coleg Cambria closed all its sites due to the warning and said it would reopen on 19 February after the half-term break.

The college was already scheduled to close on Friday due to staff training.

Some parents expressed their frustration on social media after Flintshire council posted that it was shutting all its schools.

Emma Louise Williams commented: "So here we are, 7:35 am and not a snowflake in sight."

Timothy Cossida from Hawarden, Flintshire, who has three children aged three, 12 and 15, said the decision by the council was made too soon.

He said: “We all know the weather report isn't exactly known for getting it right all the time.

“I strongly believe closures should be a last resort, and if it was to snow, the attendance of student isn’t marked against them as an unauthorised absence if they can’t make it in for those who are affected by the snow."

He said there were many families and children who had not seen any snow, "and even though it is falling now, it isn’t enough to close schools and cause all these inconveniences”.

Darren Williams posted on X, formerly Twitter: "Having to book off time work tomorrow for this pitiful amount of snow - the people running the schools in Flintshire are a joke."

Weather map
A yellow weather warning just for snow follows the amber warning for snow and ice on Thursday

Ysgol Maes Garmon head teacher Bronwen Hughes said it was not an easy decision for the local authority.

Speaking BBC Radio Cymru's Dros Frecwast she said: "We had an email yesterday giving us instructions to close the school and that's what we've done.

"We heard the warning had been upgraded to amber and there were several meetings on county level to discuss the situation, we have to consider safety issues, there's nothing worse than snow falling at lunchtime and then the worry about how everybody will get home safely."

She added that it was the right decision, based on the weather forecast.

Flintshire's cabinet member for education, Mared Eastwood, apologised for the disruption caused and said the council thought by planning, arrangements could be made for online learning.

"We recognise the childcare difficulties that does arise for parents but we were trying to minimise the disruption – an amber warning is significant because it does recommend essential journeys only," she told BBC Radio Wales Breakfast.

"It’s not just the weather in your particular school that needs to be taken into account.

"The amber warning is expected to be lifted for tomorrow and it is expected that the schools will be open."

When will it snow?

Thursday's snow and ice warning covers Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Gwynedd, Powys and Wrexham.

The Met Office said up to 10-15cm (4-6in) of snow was expected, with a chance of 20-25cm (8-10in) on higher ground.

Forecasters said a mixture of snow and ice could cause travel disruption, and power cuts may be possible.

An additional yellow warning for snow is in place from 06:00 on Thursday until 06:00 on Friday.

The forecaster warned that some rural communities could be temporarily cut off.

The warning for Friday covers Ceredigion, Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Gwynedd, Anglesey, Powys and Wrexham.

The Met Office said places could see up to 2-5cm (1-2in) of snow, with 5-10cm (2-4in) falling on higher ground.

There is also a yellow weather warning for rain from 02:00 on Thursday until 06:00 on Friday.

The rain warning covers Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil, Monmouthshire, Neath Port Talbot, Newport, Powys, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Torfaen and Vale of Glamorgan.

The Met Office warned that some places could see 15-25mm (0.5-1in) of rain, but on higher ground there could be up to 35-45mm (1-2in).