Warrnambool secondary schools are facing "significant" staff and student absences following a spike in local COVID-19 case numbers, with one school switching to a mix of face-to-face and online learning in one year level this week.
There were 128 new coronavirus cases recorded in the Warrnambool local government area on Tuesday, bringing the number of active cases to 688.
Emmanuel College acting principal Michael Wrigley said like many other workplaces it was "experiencing significant staff absence due to an increase in COVID-19 cases and other regular winter illnesses".
He said the college was also experiencing a higher-than-normal percentage of student absence with up to a quarter of the students unwell in some year levels.
Mr Wrigley said the college had put in a number of different strategies to enable onsite learning to continue and it hadn't ruled out a return to remote learning.
"The possibility of some year levels being required to complete independent remote learning for one-off days will be considered when staffing reaches critical levels," Mr Wrigley said.
Brauer College is experiencing its highest number of teacher and student absences so far this year. "We're more impacted by positive cases of COVID than the seasonal flu and colds," principal Jane Boyle said.
"There were a few activities in the community where people gathered and this is the impact as a result of that."
Ms Boyle said the college was forced to call in casual relief teachers to replace absent staff members. "I've got extra staff in every day and staff are stepping up and doing quite a bit of extra work to make sure that we keep the college running," she said.
Ms Boyle said the college hadn't had to combine classes "at this stage". "If it got any worse we would have to look at other strategies but we're hanging in there at the moment," she said.
Kings College principal Allister Rouse said it had also seen an increase in staff and student absences since the weekend due to COVID-19.
Mr Rouse said its year 12 class "was hit fairly severely this week" and it had moved to a hybrid model of face-to-face and online learning for the year 12 students.
"It's starting to cool down and with the onset of winter and viruses are ramping up again," Mr Rouse said. "I'm just really thankful we've managed to avoid the worst of it in our school.
"I know of other schools (outside the south-west) that have had much worse scenarios where they had to shut down classes and teach remotely and all sorts of things."
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