Emergency management information for families
Current status for CECG schools:
All schools open
Catholic Education Canberra & Goulburn (CECG) recognises the risks natural disasters such as bushfires and floods present to our communities. We also understand how increased fire risks may affect our communities throughout the summer months.
The continuing and safe operation of our schools and early learning centres are our top priority.
To address these risks, each of our schools have specific Emergency Management Plans and Procedures developed by specialist practitioners in close collaboration with each school. Additionally, a Bushfire Emergency Management and Evacuation Plan has been developed by an accredited specialist for schools with specific bushfire risks.
How we deal with bushfires and floods
CECG works closely with the ACT Education Directorate, Catholic Schools NSW and emergency services agencies to respond to emergency incidents.
To ensure the health, safety and welfare of students and staff, we follow the advice of emergency service agencies such as the Rural Fire Service (RFS) and State Emergency Service (SES) regarding the continuation of school operations.
As a guide for NSW schools, it has been determined by the education sector that on days when the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) declares a catastrophic fire danger rating, schools will temporarily cease operations for the following day. Further, where there is an extreme rating and a high fire danger rating, CECG will also consider closing schools the following day. This decision will be made after consultation with the RFS as well as a consideration of the approach of local NSW Education schools.
In addition, schools may be temporarily closed due to changing, higher risk, conditions and advice from emergency services and the State Emergency Operations Centre.
The fire danger rating does not mean there will be a bushfire, but rather weather conditions posing a high risk for a bushfire. The measure is proactive to ensure staff, students and the community remain safe.
A similar approach is followed in the ACT, recognising schools are located in different areas. Schools will inform families after 4pm if there is a change to their operational status for the following day. To assist schools to contact families, please ensure you have provided your child’s school with up-to-date contact details.
If a school temporarily closes due to a catastrophic or extreme fire warning, there will be no staff on site.
Download the app
We recommend staying up to date with bushfire warnings by using the Hazards Near Me app (set a watch zone for your school area), and by monitoring local media. You can also review fire activity and alert levels on the NSW Rural Fire Service and ACT Emergency Services Agency website.
Further information on school operations may also be found on this website, and on school social media pages.
Create your family’s bushfire plan
We recommend all families follow the advice of emergency services, and ensure young people knows what to do if there is a fire.
It can take as little as five minutes to create a bushfire plan. Discuss it with your family so everyone knows what to do if there is a fire.
Having a discussion about the importance of being prepared for natural hazards such as bushfires is not harmful to your young person, but avoiding conversations can leave them to worry on their own.
Emerging Minds Australia provides the following advice:
- Assess their awareness: Determine what your young person knows about bushfires, as it will guide your discussion.
- Teach family preparedness: Explain that disasters can occur, but when the whole family knows what to do, everyone stays safe. It is important that adults remain calm and confident when discussing the family emergency plan.
- Open for questions: Encourage your young person to ask questions and share their thoughts about disaster preparedness. This helps clear up any misunderstandings.
- Offer reassurance: Comfort your young person by emphasising that preparedness makes situations less frightening and much safer.
Involving your young person in the planning process can make them feel more able to cope with a bushfire threat, and feel safe and secure in knowing you have a plan. Your young person will know that even if they are affected by a disaster, their family will use their resources to work together.
The Australian Psychological Society provides the following advice for families, using the AIME model:
- Anticipate the stress: How do you usually react to stressful situations? Do you default to fight or flight? If you understand your usual reactions, you can put safeguards in place to manage them.
- Identify your response: How do you usually react in stressful situations?
- Manage your response: Think of strategies you could use, and practice them.
- Engage support: If you feel the stress or anxiety you or your family are experiencing is getting too much to manage, talk to your GP.
Bushfire smoke hazards
Bushfires can result in a large amount of smoke particles in the air, even when fires may be many kilometres away. Monitor your young person for any potential health implications.
Signs and symptoms include a runny nose, itchy or burning eyes, headaches, coughing, throat irritation, and shortness of breath.