Aberdeenshire schools update following Storm Arwen
Aberdeenshire Council says it assessment of all 170 schools in the area is ongoing to assess storm damage, access routes, and check if power, heating and water supplies are operational. The priority is to ensure buildings are safe before pupils and staff are welcomed back.
So far, it's a mixed picture across Aberdeenshire. Building inspectors have been diverted from other projects to lend a hand with schools and council housing too, and in many cases janitorial teams are on the ground as well.
In some of the most rural areas, access remains an issue due to the wintery conditions, in others work is underway to remove fallen trees. Roads and infrastructure colleagues advise that trees are continuing to fall, adding pressure to teams that are already extremely busy – they are working with country estates teams and private land owners to help alleviate this.
Repairs are in progress where needed. Another concern is to ensure emergency lighting and power arrangements will be operational in schools when they re-open – batteries are being re-charged where necessary. Availability of staff in some areas is a concern, and the focus is on wellbeing.
Director of Education and Children's Services, Laurence Findlay explains: "We're receiving mixed feedback right across the board. Where we do have facilities that can re-open, like our Live Life Aberdeenshire centres, the priority is on delivering heat, hot water, food and charging facilities to some of the most vulnerable members of our communities.
"For some communities, it will feel that the storm has very much passed but for now we have to prioritise safety and supporting those in need."
Children's services social work teams are making contact with families known to them and ensuring those who need it most are given the support they need.
Duty services remain open and families can get in touch with local offices: https://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/social-care-and-health/children-and-families/children-and-families-team-offices/
Those who are entitled to statutory free school meals will receive an additional payment this week to make up for the two days missed in school.
Additionally, the storm assistance centre line remains open until 10pm tonight: 08081963384 and we would urge those who are still struggling with power to enjoy free meals available in many communities.