Teaching shortage emergency plan put into action

Planning for teacher shortages has kicked in at Ashburton College.

Ashburton College has activated its emergency cover plan, allowing for staffing shortages due to covid.

The plan, which started today, will see students have set days of online learning provided by their classroom teachers during the week, until further notice.

Year 11 students will be away from school on Mondays, Years 12 and 13 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and Years 9, 10 and Kohanga on Thursdays and Fridays.

Principal Ross Preece said the emergency plan had been activated because the school was running out of teachers to cover classes. It had nothing to do with the number of students away.

‘‘We had a number of staff who tested positive (for covid), we’ve also got a number of staff who are home contacts and those people are out for 10 days, so it’s not like its a short-term cover solution.

‘‘It’s about our ability to put a qualified teacher in front of a group of students,’’ Mr Preece said.

The plan was set up two weeks ago as Ashburton’s covid cases increased and made known to the school community.

The community was also made aware that as more teachers needed to isolate, parents and caregivers would be given 48-hours notice of the school starting the emergency plan. The notice of its activation was sent on Tuesday.

‘‘We’ve tried to set it up so it is least disruptive to particularly to our senior students, cos they have got NCEA. Our priority was our Year 11s, so they are only being hit on one day a week because we felt like they were still getting to grips with NCEA assessment,’’ he said.

‘‘Our Year 9s, 10s, will be rostered home on Thursday, Friday; our Year 11s will be rostered home on Monday, and our Year 12s and 13s will be rostered home Tuesday, Wednesday.’’

‘‘Staff who have been released from classes will be available therefore to cover relief, so that we can ensure that all the pupils at school have a qualified teacher in front of them,’’ he said.

Online work, set up by subject teachers since the start of the year, was available for students while they were at home.

Mr Preece said putting the plan into action was due to the length of time those exposed needed to remain at home.

‘‘If we were short staffed for one day you could cover it, but not for prolonged periods of time,’’ he said.

Families affected by covid were being contacted and made aware of support available, and students in need of computers at home were also being set up with school-issue equipment for their online learning.

Mr Preece encouraged those able to attend school on their rostered days to continue as most of the events the school was aware of where covid had spread had been caught outside the school.

‘‘Our students have been outstanding in terms of their mask use in classrooms, we’ve been delighted with the responsibility of the students as a group. In the classroom they are all wearing masks, out in the fresh air that’s okay, and the classrooms are well ventilated,’’ he said.

‘‘They are actually much better off coming to school for face-to-face learning than trying to do it on their own at home.’’