Storms muddle at schools sparks call for review

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 June, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 June, 1997, 12:00am

Liaison over rainstorm warnings will be reviewed after confusion arose about school closures yesterday.

The Education Department said it would confer with the Royal Observatory on warning procedures because of the confusion over the severity of the morning downpours.

Afternoon-session schools were closed although the storms cleared by lunch time.

The department did not make a decision until 10.30 am despite the red rainstorm warning being issued by the observatory at 7.05 am. The warning means 50 millimetres of rainfall is expected to fall within an hour.

Scores of confused parents called the department during the morning storms as most schools remained open. Morning-session students had to commute to school in the thundery conditions.

'The problem was the timing of the heavy rain which came when most children were already heading to school,' a department spokesman said.

'Only a few schools were closed due to poor conditions in their areas. Announcements were made for parents to use their discretion.' The department was accused of not having close enough liaison with the observatory. It admitted discussions were only informal.

Legislative Council education panel chairman Anthony Cheung Bing-leung said the decision should not be dumped on parents.

'The burden was put on parents and schoolmasters to make their decisions but I think the department, under advice from the observatory, should be making it,' Dr Cheung said.

'Then, once the decision is made to keep open or to close schools, whether right or wrong, it should remain as sudden changes lead to confusion.'