For the second time in the last twelve months, a group of Southend primary and secondary schools have been forced to shut their doors due to the heavy fog that is covering South Essex. According to the head of the borough’s Department for Educational Health and Safety, work to ‘fog-proof’ the interior of local schools is is still ongoing, and as a result a number of local schools have ‘little or zero visibility’ indoors – parents have been expressing their anger on Facebook and Twitter.
Coleen Miston released a statement through the Southend DEHS earlier this morning. She said: ‘Unfortunately, while we definitely learned some valuable lessons during last year’s fog, we regret that many schools have not been able to stop today’s seriously foggy air from getting into classrooms once again. Our colleagues in the Southend Met Office have warned us that today’s mist is denser than anything that they have seen before – it has been classified as a ‘Level Five’ on the Di Tomassi scale, and there is no such thing as a ‘Level Six.’ I inspected a number of local classrooms between 6am and 7am this morning, and some of them were so bad that it was impossible to see the whiteboard from 10cm away.’
She added: ‘The safety of our children is always our absolute top priority, and while these closures will inconvenience parents we simply cannot afford the risk of a child swallowing this incredibly dense fog – in Thorpe Bay my colleagues could actually grab it their hands and so it could be hazardous in a child’s lungs. Our advice to parents today is to keep an eye on legitimate news outlets for the latest closure information, and all schools have been told to use the secret password when reporting that their doors have shut for the day. After problems during the last fog crisis, we have changed it from ‘fogmageddon’ to something that is far more secure.’
Transport links in South Essex have also been disrupted by the weather, and efforts to rescue residents on Canvey Island have been heavily disrupted after yesterday’s earthquake. According to officials at Southend Airport, an early flight from Amsterdam landed in Newquay by accident as the pilot’s visibility was ‘impaired,’ and passengers have been put onto coaches to continue their journey to Southend by road.