Many of Warrnambool's retired educators say they stand ready to help their community should the need arise as the Victorian government scurries to gather a pool of backup teachers before schools open.
While education minister James Merlino announced on Saturday the callout for retired teachers to fill staff vacancies extended to government schools only, education providers across Warrnambool are putting similar safeguards in place.
Recently retired King's College teacher Michael Tucker said he and his wife Lyndell received a call just this morning asking if they'd be happy to join a list of standby staff at the school.
"We got a call from the King's College daily organiser who arranges casual relief teachers when staff are away and there's a shortage," he said.
"They asked if we'd be available to act as CRTs which both my wife and I said we would last year. We anticipated schools would be short of teachers - we thought that would be the case so we put our hand up then and told them to give us a call next year (2022) if they needed us because we'd be happy to come back and help out.
"They followed that up this morning and asked us if we were still keen and both my wife and I said they could ring us any time. We're happy for them to ring us on a daily basis if and when we're needed.
"You quit being a teacher and you're retired, but you're still a teacher at heart."
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Retired Emmanuel College teacher Noel Mugavin - who has been known to occasionally fill in for sick staff - said he believed there would be a strong community response to the call.
"I'm sure if the need is there, retired teachers will put their hand up to lend a hand," he said.
"That's the community we're in and it's the state we're in with COVID - the education system has seen so many challenges the last few years and I take my hat off to the teachers and principals for getting through that.
"I think it's a great idea, in these times from one day to the next things keep changing and we've seen the community support each other in a whole range of areas."
Mr Mugavin said he'd be happy to help out where needed.
"I'm very happy to assist the schools in anything where they need support," he said.
"I'm sure other people will be happy to get behind schools and support each other too. If that means retired teachers need to put their hand up, so be it. That's why we went into teaching - it's more than just a profession - it's a calling."
Warrnambool Primary School retired teacher John Pattison said he was already a CRT for the school and was happy to continue lending a hand.
"I retired three-and-a-half years ago, but I still enjoy teaching so I continued on as a CRT," he said.
"I've got a good history with the school, the kids are great and the teachers are fantastic. I still think I've got something to give to the school and the kids, so I still enjoy it.
"I know quite a few retired teachers my age who still do it because they love it."
He said he had no problem going back to the school, despite its associated risks.
"The school is really good about the masks and isolation. They follow the procedure very well and they have ventilation and will probably have other systems in place - I've got no problems going back to the school," he said.
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