Code Red Days

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What happens on a Code Red day?

For schools and early childhood services that are currently closed, see: Emergency Closures

Schools and early childhood services that have been identified as being at high fire risk and on the Department’s bushfire at-risk register will close on days determined Code Red by the Emergency Management Commissioner.

Schools and early childhood services not on the Department’s bushfire at-risk register will remain open, unless directly threatened by fire or another emergency.

Where possible, four to seven days notice of a planned closure will be provided. Parents and carers should expect that in some instances fewer than four days notice may be provided.

Once a Code Red day has been determined by the Emergency Management Commissioner this decision will not change – regardless of any changes in the weather forecast. This will help limit confusion and help your family plan for how your children will be cared for when their school or early childhood service is closed.

Advice will be provided to you directly by your school or early childhood service.

When a school or early childhood service is closed due to a Code Red day determination, no staff will remain on site and all out-of-school care programs (including vacation, before and after school programs) will not operate.

What happens if a school or service is only potentially closed?

For schools and services that may be potentially closed, see: Emergency Closures

If your school or early childhood service is listed as potentially closed on the school and service closure list, you should start planning for alternative care arrangements for your child in the event that the planned closure proceeds. The final decision to close a school or early childhood service will be confirmed no later than 1.00pm the day before the planned closure. This decision will not change, irrespective of an improvement in the weather forecast. No child should be left at home alone or in the care of siblings on high-fire danger days.

School bus transport

If a bus route is threatened by unexpected fire, the school will enact its local emergency management plan.

Information on changes to bus routes or cancellation of services will be provided by your school and via this website.

Off-site activities

The safety of students and staff is paramount and off-site activities may be cancelled, postponed or relocated if faced with the threat of bushfire.

Off-site activities include any activity undertaken by staff and children away from their normal school facility. This can include:

  • Camps
  • Field trips
  • Sporting activities
  • Training or conferences for staff

Frequently asked questions

What is a planned closure?

Schools and early childhood services identified as being at the greatest risk of bushfires will be pre-emptively closed on days determined by the Emergency Management Commissioner as having a Code Red fire danger rating.

Why are we pre-emptively closing schools and early childhood services?

The Department’s priority is the safety of its staff, students and children.  On a Code Red day all facilities on the Department’s bushfire at-risk register will be closed.

Who makes the decision to close a school or early childhood service?

The decision to pre-emptively close schools and early childhood services is made by the Department, based on a Code Red day being determined by the Emergency Management Commissioner.

How will I know if my school or early childhood service is likely to close this fire season?

Schools and early childhood services considered to be at risk have been included on the Department’s bushfire at-risk register and informed of their status on the Register. Further information on the Register is available from this website.

How much notice will I have if my school or early childhood service is going to be closed?

It is intended that families will be provided with as much notice as possible of a planned closure. However, if unexpected weather patterns are experienced, closures may happen at short notice. The final decision to close a school or early childhood service will be confirmed no later than 1.00pm the day before the planned closure.  Schools and early childhood services are expected to communicate planned closures to families.

Families are encouraged to ensure that their bushfire survival plan always includes alternative care arrangements for children in the event of a planned closure. No child should be left at home alone or under the supervision of older children.

Who will tell me that my school or early childhood service will be closed?

You will be directly advised by your school or early childhood service. Information will also be published on this website.

What happens if the forecast changes?

If the Bureau of Meteorology downgrades the risk forecast in the days leading-up to a planned closure, the closure may be cancelled and the school or early childhood service will be allowed to remain open. The final decision to pre-emptively close a school or early childhood service will be confirmed no later than 1.00pm the day before the planned closure. Once the decision to close has been confirmed, there will be no change – regardless of improvements to the weather conditions the following afternoon or overnight. This will help limit confusion and provide time for parents and guardians to make alternative care arrangements for their children.

What should my school-age child do if their school is closed?

Families are encouraged to ensure that their bushfire survival plans include alternative care arrangements for children in the event of a planned closure. Given the expected severity of the weather conditions, children should not be left unattended or under the supervision of older children.

Is it likely that my school or early childhood service will be closed for consecutive days? If yes, how will I know?

It is possible that schools and early childhood services will be closed for consecutive days. Information about ongoing closures will be published on the Department’s closures page. Where possible, schools and early childhood services will contact families directly to confirm their ongoing closure(s).

To get warnings and find out what’s happening, listen to ABC local radio, call the VicEmergency Hotline on  1800 226 226, or go to emergency.vic.gov.au.

On average, how many days does the government predict that schools and early childhood services will need to close due to Code Red days?

While we cannot predict the exact number of days, it should be noted that there has not been a determined Code Red day since January 2010.

When my school or early childhood service is closed, will any staff remain on site?

No. The safety of staff and children is our main priority. Schools and early childhood services have been advised that no-one is to remain on site when their facility is closed due to high-bushfire danger risk.

Will there be times when my school is closed but another school not far away remains open?

Yes. If your school is on the bushfire at-risk register then it will close on Code Red fire danger days. Schools not far away may remain open because they are not on the bushfire at-risk register.

Does this also apply to early childhood services?

Early childhood services that are on the bushfire at-risk register are required to close on Code Red fire danger days.  However because such services are not owned or managed by the Department they may also decide to close on other high-risk days. Services are expected to advise all affected families of such decisions.

Can I keep my child away if I’m concerned about the risk of fires - even if my school or early childhood service remains open?

Yes. If your family decides to enact its bushfire survival plan, the most appropriate place for your child may be with you and your family, and not at school or in child care. You must advise your school or childcare provider as soon as possible of your child’s absence.

My child travels by bus to school. Will bus routes be closed on Code Red days?

Similar to Code Red facilities that pre-emptively close on determined Code Red days, bus routes servicing these schools will also be cancelled on Code Red days. Bus routes from schools not on the Department’s bushfire at-risk register that enter high-risk areas will be pre-emptively closed as well.

Will school off-site activities (e.g. camps and excursions) continue to operate on high-bushfire risk days? What happens if my child’s off-site activity is threatened by fire?

Yes, off-site activities will continue throughout the year as they are an important part of school programs. However, off-site activities in high bushfire risk areas affected by a predicted Code Red day will be cancelled or rescheduled. Your school will assess the likely threat of fire when organising off-site activities during the summer fire season. If an off-site activity is threatened by fire, your school will enact its emergency management plan.

What have schools and early childhood services on the Department’s bushfire at-risk register done to prepare for the summer fire season?

Schools and early childhood services on the Department’s bushfire at-risk register have:

  • Reviewed and updated their emergency management plans and submitted them to their region
  • Held staff training sessions and drills with students and children
  • Been offered training in emergency management planning
  • Undertaken works, where required, around their facilities to manage vegetation
What else can I do?
  • Ensure that your school or early childhood service has your current emergency contact details
  • Review and update your family bushfire survival plan
  • Keep in touch with your facility
  • Look out for more information about activities your local community is planning
  • Go to www.emergency.vic.gov.au or call 1800 226 226 for more information