A shortage of teachers, due to COVID-19 and influenze-related illness, has forced Shepparton’s two largest schools to ask some students to stay home.
Year 8 students at Greater Shepparton Secondary College returned to home schooling on Monday, May 16, due to a wave of illness among teachers and Notre Dame College will cancel a series of classes across the next two weeks for the same reason.
It is the second time both schools have had to take similar action since the start of the school year.
The move at Greater Shepparton Secondary College was only intended to be for the one day and impacted about 420 students.
Executive principal Barbara O’Brien said the decision was regrettable, but unavoidable.
“We’ve asked for our Year 8 students to learn from home today (Monday) and that’s purely because we’re going through a wave of absences of staff that are COVID-positive,” Ms O’Brien said.
“A significant number of staff are away, mostly COVID-related, there are other reasons too, but it’s hit us pretty badly this term.
“More so than we had last term and this weekend there’s been another wave.
“I’ve got phone calls this weekend with teachers saying, ‘I can’t come in, I’m COVID-postive’.
“For example, we’ve (got) 35, and it’s not all COVID-related, but 35 staff ring in to say they’re unwell and that’s not just teaching staff, that’s ES (educational support) staff as well.
“That’s the most we’ve ever had.”
Ms O’Brien said at this stage, the move back to home schooling was just for one day and only involved the Year 8s, but the situation would be monitored day to day.
She said Year 8 was chosen because it was the least worst scenario.
“Our Year 7s and Year 9s are still doing NAPLANs, so they’ve got their numeracy NAPLAN assessment today (Monday), and our 10s, 11s and 12s are our senior students and we really want to keep them at school because it’s vital for them to have every day here they can for their VCE, and for any students that are fast-tracking,” she said.
Ms O’Brien said the reaction from teachers, having to take up extra lessons, and parents, through their support and understanding, had been tremendous.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame College principal John Cortese has told parents that a number of classes will be cancelled over the next two weeks because of a high level of staff and student absences.
Year 12 students will not be impacted and neither will Year 9, due to it being on a different campus.
Any Year 10 or Year 11 students who are accelerating a VCE subject are also able to attend school and go to their accelerated classes.
If they need to stay at school they are able to go to the library and study.
A supervision program will be available to support students whose parents are essential workers.
The cancellations are as follows:
Tuesday, May 17 – no classes for Year 10 students*
Wednesday, May 18 – no classes for Year 8 students
Thursday, May 19 – no classes for Year 11 students
Friday, May 20 – no classes for Year 7 students
Monday, May 23 – no classes for Year 8 students
Wednesday, May 25 – no classes for Year 11 students
Thursday, May 26 – no classes for Year 7 students
Friday, May 27 – no classes for Year 10 students
*All Year 10 students who are participating in Goulburn Murray Division of School Sport Victoria (GMDSSV) today (Tuesday, May 17) are still able to attend.
The school is not providing remote lessons for the cancelled classes, but students are expected to complete home study.
In a letter to parents, Mr Cortese said other school activities will also be impacted.
“In addition to these measures, and to prevent further spread of illness, we are also cancelling all overnight camps for the rest of term two,” he said.
“Our teaching staff and casual relief staff have been covering these absences to date; however, we are becoming more stretched each week.
“We are grateful for your patience and understanding as we navigate this period of time.”