Said to be one of the worst storms in decades, Storm Eunice arrived in the UK on February 18, but school went on as normal, with a few changes to keep the safety of students in mind. Many meteorologists predicted that this storm could cause lots of damage, such as power outages, travel disruption and the destruction of buildings and property. That is why the school administration had plans to protect the school against the strong winds.
Storm Eunice was already affecting many other areas of the UK, so the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan issued a rare ‘Red Weather Warning’ Friday morning. He urged Londoners to stay at home, and to not travel unless it was essential.
School administrators were aware of the upcoming storm for the past few days, and had time to make a decision. Though Storm Eunice was at its strongest on Friday, Mr. Jim Heynderickx the director of operations and Sacha McVean, the acting interim head of school, were discussing plans about the storm for a few days. “We talked with faculty and staff about the possibility of having indoor recess,” said Ms. McVean. “We looked at bus and train services and even though London did issue a red warning, a severe warning, the issue is for 10 am to 3 pm. So we felt confident that students would be safe.”
Jim Heynderickx also noted that they looked at different schools around the country to see what they had decided. There were reported to be some school closures in Scotland but not all. “We also saw that there were some school closures in Wales and near the Bristol Channel because they actually were having the highest winds coming at 7am to noon today before us,” he said.
Mr. Heynderickx said that not many London schools were closing, which influenced the administration’s decision to stay open. The school also had not gotten any reports from neighboring businesses and they hadn’t had any significant impacts. “But so far, we haven’t heard of any immediate problems in the St.Johns Wood area,” he said.
It was reported that winds were to increase as the morning went on, but were to decrease during the afternoon. Storm Eunice brought gusts of wind up to 90 mph.This was the first time London has ever received a red weather warning.
The maintenance team started by taking down the fabrics off of the outside pavilions because they are particularly likely to pick up heavy winds. One of the main disruptions that the weather impacted was travel. London public transport was delayed throughout the day so school administrators checked in with school bus drivers to make sure they were comfortable about their routes. Transportation was said to be the biggest area of concern when deciding whether school should open today, according to Mr. Heynderickx. Playground equipment like soccer goals and balls were taken inside. Monitoring was also implemented throughout the day.
“We have maintenance personnel keeping an eye on all the trees on campus to make certain that none of them show any signs of swaying too far or anything like that, that could cause a tree to tip over,” said Mr. Heynderickx.
Around an hour after school started on Friday, the MS Office asked teachers to close windows due to strong winds. Additionally, indoor recess was implemented for middle school students. Around London, some flights were canceled due to the dangerous weather conditions. Many structures including the O2 Arena were damaged because of the strong winds. Luckily for ASL, no damage was done during Storm Eunice.