More than 20 schools on the NSW Far South Coast that were ordered to close on Tuesday have now reopened after the fire danger rating was downgraded from ‘catastrophic’ to ‘high’.
The NSW Education Department said the only school to remain non-operational today is the Gibberagong Environmental Education Centre (EEC) at Bobbin Head in the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. The national park will remain closed today due to a total fire ban in the area.
On Tuesday, the NSW Department of Education made the decision to close more than 20 schools on the NSW Far South Coast amid warnings from the state’s Rural Fire Service commissioner of “the worst risk we’ve faced since the Black Summer fires of 2019”.
Speaking to The Educator on Tuesday, NSW Department of Education Secretary Murat Dizdar said the decision was “not taken lightly”.
“[Closing schools] is always done with the safety and wellbeing of our staff and students uppermost in our mind,” Dizdar said. “For many of our staff and students the memories and trauma of the 2019-2020 bushfires remain. We want to minimise any impact on them by taking proactive action to ensure they know their safety is our priority.”
The Department has been working closely with the NSW Rural Fire Service and the State Emergency Operations Centre as strong north westerly winds and high temperatures combine to create dangerous conditions.
“When the Fire Danger Rating exceeds pre-agreed thresholds developed in consultation with the NSW RFS, we direct schools to temporarily close. We encourage parents and carers to always follow the advice of Police and Emergency Services during periods of heightened bushfire risk,” Dizdar said.
“We will continue to update our school communities as soon as we receive advice from the State Emergency Operations Centre and the NSW Rural Fire Service.”