A large cohort of pupils at Macgregor Primary School in North West Canberra will return to distance learning from tomorrow, due to a shortage of teachers.
- An email sent to parents and guardians asked students in Years 4, 5 and 6 to learn from home until next Friday
- Face-to-face classes will continue for students from kindergarten to grade 3
- ACT education leadership says it is ‘no longer tenable’ or safe for all students to access the school, due to limited staff
In an email to families, principal Belinda Andrews said the school was “unfortunately” unable to provide face-to-face lessons because too many teachers were in isolation with COVID-19 or were household contacts.
The email said that as a result, pupils in Years 4, 5 and 6 would learn from home until next Friday.
“Your patience and kindness are appreciated.”
Face-to-face classes will continue as normal for all preschool and kindergarten students, as well as those in Years 1, 2 and 3.
“Children of essential workers and vulnerable children will still be able to attend school and be supervised while accessing the same remote learning program,” Ms Andrews said.
The decision by state school ACT comes just under a week after teachers at Queanbeyan and Karabar grammar schools across the border threatened to strike unless the NSW government did something about it. not to staffing shortages in the region.
‘More tenable’: ACT Education Directorate
Mark Huxley is the Executive Group Director of ACT’s Education Directorate for School Improvement. He said it was hoped a week of remote learning would see the school through its most strained staffing period.
“It’s always difficult to predict the impact of COVID and how it spreads in the community…so we assess daily where the school is in terms of staff availability,” he said.
“Macgregor [Primary School] has done an amazing job and gone above and beyond to manage the impact of this for several weeks now and just happens to have gotten to a point where it’s no longer tenable to maintain access to the set site for all students.
“We will continue to monitor this with the director as we are advised of when people expect to come out of quarantine…we expect it to take a week at this stage, but we will continue to examine.”
The remote learning week means that the school’s primary pupils would only return to campus a day before the school holidays, although Mr Huxley said they could return for that final day.
Mr Huxley said teacher availability was a national issue, which the ACT was “not immune to”.
“I think there’s a relatively small number of casuals available now…and I think that was there before the pandemic,” he said.
“Our schools are normally in the position where we can accommodate ‘normal’ types of absences…but what we are using now is an exceptional doubling due to the impacts of COVID.
“But there is no magic stash of additional teachers at the moment and we are absolutely using a range of strategies to address current concerns in the community.”
Macgregor Primary the first, but probably not the last: union
Australian Education Union ACT branch secretary Patrick Judge said it was “unfortunate” for Macgregor Primary to be the first school in Canberra in this situation, but it was not unexpected.
“We anticipated these circumstances before we started this term, and we probably had a better run than we thought, but we knew in all likelihood that we would reach a point where COVID infections and isolations were like a school. should be at least partially closed.”
Mr Judge said that with winter approaching and health authorities predicting a rise in COVID-19 cases, more school closures could be on the cards.
“This is not a position we want to be in and we will continue to have these discussions about how we relieve pressure and avoid school closures where we can, but we have to be realistic that switching to remote learning is something we will have to do from time to time.”