As storm Ophelia passes over Ireland, the Department of Education and Skills has confirmed that all schools will remain closed tomorrow.

The decision was announced by the Government, following a meeting of the National Emergency Coordination Group in Dublin this afternoon.

Schools in Northern Ireland will also remain closed tomorrow, according to the Northern Ireland education authority.

Minister Richard Bruton said the decision "was primarily taken in the interests of child safety and on the basis of information available in what is a developing situation".

On Twitter, he said: "While it is recognised that some schools may not be as badly impacted as others, the information available at this time indicates that over 350,000 businesses & homes already without power, severe winds continue to cause damage across the country as the storm progresses."

He said they recognised that the decision to close schools "will have a major impact on families and on the workforce".

But he said the decision was taken in the interests of safety and to provide clarity for everyone concerned.

The minister also said that, by tomorrow, many school authorities will not have had an opportunity to check their buildings and confirm they are safe, have power and water.

The department has not yet decided whether schools will have to make up days lost as a result of Storm Ophelia.

A spokesperson said the department would take stock and issue guidance after consulting with school management.

The Department of Education also informed all Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS), Youthreach and PLC facilities to close tomorrow.

Following advice from the Met Office, Northern Ireland's Education Authority said that schools across the region would also remain closed tomorrow.

Derek Baker, Permanent Secretary of the Department, said: "I fully appreciate this decision will impact on the work of the schools and indeed on other businesses and services but the decision has been taken to avoid any potential risk to life for children and young people as well as staff."

It will be up to third-level institutions to make their own decisions on reopening.

University College Cork, University of Limerick, Dublin City University and NCAD have said they will reopen tomorrow.

NUI Galway also confirmed it will reopen tomorrow. It said lectures will go ahead as planned in addition to conferring ceremonies.

University College Dublin plans to reopen tomorrow but will carry out a further assessment later tonight.

There will be no lectures for students at Maynooth University tomorrow, but the campus will be open.

GMIT Galway campus, GMIT Galway School of Design & Creative Arts (CCAM) and GMIT Letterfrack will reopen as normal tomorrow.

GMIT Mayo campus will reopen at 11am tomorrow, while GMIT Mountbellew will re-open on Wednesday.

Further reporting

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