Pupils rostered off as Covid, flu cut loose

A surge in illness across Oamaru secondary schools has forced some pupils to be "rostered" home this week.

Waitaki Girls’ and Waitaki Boys’ High Schools, which held their Waitaki formal last weekend, have been hit the hardest, with large numbers of teachers and pupils away as a result of Covid-19 or flu-related illness.

Both schools opted to roster pupils home similarly to when Covid-19 ripped through the schools in the first term.

As of Wednesday, more than a third of Waitaki Girls’ pupils and nearly half of the teaching staff were away.

Waitaki Boys’ had about 50 years 13 and 12 pupils off on Thursday, and five teachers, and four support staff, were off yesterday either with Covid-19 or the flu.

St Kevin’s College has almost been fortunate — about 14 pupils, and one teacher, have been off with Covid-19 for the past week.

Waitaki Girls’ principal Liz Koni on Wednesday made the decision to send senior pupils home as the school no longer had staff to cover classes.

As of yesterday, year 9 and 10 pupils would be rostered home for Monday and Tuesday.

The situation would be reassessed on Tuesday.

"Our hope, of course, is that by Wednesday the worst of it will have passed and we will be back to regular school on site for everyone," Mrs Koni said.

Pupils could access their learning, and speak to teachers, online, and staff had "rallied" in support.

"Teachers and students have adapted to the current situation in their usual pragmatic and resilient manner.

"Disruption has always been a part of life and is really considered the new normal in our current climate."

Waitaki Boys’ rector Darryl Paterson sent year 10 pupils home for the end of the week, and year 12 and 13 pupils would be sent home on Monday and Tuesday.

He said the disruptions were challenging but appeared to be the "new normal".

St Kevin’s principal Jo Walshe had not had to roster pupils home yet but the flu was doing "the rounds".

She expected the numbers to rise for senior pupils during formal season.

If pupils were sent home, different year groups would go each day, rather than a whole week, to avoid extra stress for seniors.

"Our teachers are doing an excellent job in a very trying circumstances.

"We are all adapting to the current situation and treating this as our new normal really," Mrs Walshe said.


Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter