Most of the city’s northside is without running water which meant the area’s schools, as well as a small number in the Ballinlough area of the southside, had to stay closed to hundreds of pupils.
Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe, meanwhile, was officially opening a new primary school outside the city which has water recycling facilities allowing it to use rainwater for toilets and washing facilities in cases of shortages.
Scoil Phádraig Naofa in Rochestown is also notable for being one of the few new schools to open in recent years under Catholic patronage. The water-harvesting facility enables rainwater to be collected on the roof and recycled throughout the building.
The irony of the potential of rainwater was not lost on staff and visitors – including Mr O’Keeffe, Foreign Affairs Minister Micheál Martin and Catholic Bishop of Cork and Ross Dr John Buckley – as dozens of schools were forced to close because damage caused by last week’s flooding left them without clean water.
The minister is providing funding for schools to improve water conservation and reduce their water usage as councils begin metering and charging them for water from January.
All of Cork’s primary and second level schools are closed today anyway due to the strike by teachers, along with other public servants taking part in the first of what could be up to three days of action.
A number of northside primary schools were depending on advice yesterday from Cork City Council, but decided to remain closed until next Monday, unless water is restored earlier this week. If water does become available to affected areas, schools will notify parents and students by telephone and text messaging services.
“We had only just set up an automated service which allows us send group text messages to parents, so it has been helpful in getting information to parents,” said Ciaran Cooke, principal of North Presentation Secondary School in Farranree.
St Mary’s of the Isle Primary School was waiting to assess the level of water in its storage tanks today before deciding if it can re-open tomorrow or later in the week.