When you wake up on a chilly morning to freezing temperatures or significant snowfall overnight, you might be wondering if it is still safe to send your child to school.

Worrying about whether your child will be warm enough as they make their way to school or in the classroom and at break times, is something most parents will have thought about at some point.

But is there a legal requirement that a school's temperature must be inside before it shuts due to being too cold in the winter? Let’s find out.

How cold does it have to be for schools to close?

Up until October 2012, legal requirements which specified what the minimum temperatures had to be in school classrooms were set out in the Education (School Premises) Regulations 1999.

The National Education Union (NEU) adds: “These were replaced in 2012 by the School Premises (England) Regulations 2012 which do not specify minimum temperatures for any parts of a school."

It advises: “The NEU position remains that temperatures in school classrooms should be at least 18ºC (64.4ºF).

“The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, which apply to all workplaces, including schools, set out minimum temperature requirements.

“They require that temperatures shall be 'reasonable', defined as 'normally at least 16°C' (60°F).

“This applies to non-teaching areas as well as classrooms and applies outside school session times.”

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Can I refuse to work if I’m too cold?

Currently, there’s no law for minimum temperatures or what is classed as “too cold to work.”

“During working hours the temperature in all indoor workplaces must be reasonable,” reports GOV.UK.

“However, guidance suggests a minimum of 16ºC or 13ºC if employees are doing physical work.

“There’s no guidance for a maximum temperature limit."

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GOV.UK also adds that employers must stick to health and safety at work law, including:

  • keeping the temperature at a comfortable level
  • providing clean and fresh air

If you are concerned about the temperature at work, employees should talk to their employer if the workplace temperature “isn’t comfortable.”