The Minister for Education and Science, Batt O’Keeffe, has told all primary and post-primary schools to close on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week due to the bad weather.
Mr O’Keeffe took the decision in the interest of the welfare of school children.
The Minister took the decision following a meeting today of the Government’s emergency planning group and in the context of the poor weather outlook for the coming days.
Mr O'Keeffe said: "I took the decision to close all schools based on my concern for the health and safety of school children in these very challenging weather conditions.
"I considered, in particular, the forecast for snowfall on Sunday and Monday which will cause further disruption.
"Although most schools decided not to open this week and many more will take the same decision next week, I wanted to bring clarity and certainty to the position for parents and students by telling all schools to close.
"While it may be that some schools would have been in a position to open depending on the weather, I consider on balance that the responsible and prudent approach at this stage is to close schools in the interest of safety.
"The situation will be reviewed on Tuesday."
Mr O’Keeffe stressed that the decision will not affect the local decision-making powers of school boards of management.
"I am taking this decision in particularly exceptional circumstances and against a backdrop of extremely bad weather conditions," said Mr O’Keeffe.
He said his Department officials will be discussing with the education partners ways in which the impact of the closures can be minimised, particularly for examination classes.
Higher education institutions will make their own decisions on whether to open based on local roads and weather conditions.