The ACT Education Minister has denied that underinvestment in public schools has put them behind in dealing with COVID-19 impacts as new figures shed light on the extent of staff absences.
In Term 1 this year, an average of 348 teachers were absent each day across the ACT public school system, figures from the Education Directorate show.
Of this, 239 teachers took personal leave and 109 took COVID leave.
This was up from an average of 279 absences per day in Term 1, 2021, comprising 275 on personal leave and four on COVID leave.
Currently 12 out of 90 public schools have sent some students into remote learning because of high numbers of absences.
An Education Directorate spokesman said principals were responsible for assessing the impact on safety and meeting obligations for face-to-face house under the enterprise agreement.
"Where it is determined that these obligations and safety requirements can not be met in coming days due to high levels of staff absence, the school is assessed to move to remote learning for certain year levels based on the context of the school site," the spokesman said.
"This assessment and recommendation is endorsed by the director of school improvement and approved by the deputy director general."
Opposition education spokesman Jeremy Hanson said the government had reduced funding for ACT public schools by 3.3 per cent in real terms over the past decade, according to Productivity Commission data.
"If we had a properly resourced education system, relief teachers would be able to backfill the gaps left by teachers isolating with COVID and it would be done through a centralised system," Mr Hanson said.
Education Minister Yvette Berry said it was untrue that schools were under resourced, as the ACT government was the second-highest per-student funders of public education behind the Northern Territory.
"We've taken the view in our public schools that we have systems in place, we have planning around how we would manage the impact of COVID, particularly as we come up to the flu season, and that means going to remote education temporarily," she said.
"We've got excellent resources in place to ensure that children and young people still continue to get a good education but we also need to make sure that we take into account the health and wellbeing of our staff."
Ms Berry said she had not had any negative feedback from parents with children learning remotely.
Catholic and independent schools have not yet resorted to online learning arrangements, but Association of Independent Schools of the ACT executive officer Andrew Wrigley said schools may have to consider it as cases rise.
"They are certainly doing all they can to avoid moving to remote learning but necessity will demand that to happen," Mr Wrigley said.
Mr Wrigley said independent schools had managed staff absences by hiring extra staff and making some difficult decisions on whether to allow teachers to attend professional learning or off-site excursions.
School leaders have had to step in to cover classroom and playground duties because of a lack of casual teachers.
Some classes at Cranleigh School will be learning at home until May 24, followed by a pupil free staff planning day on May 25.
Wanniassa School's year 9 and 10 cohort will be in remote learning until May 25.
Some cohorts at Namadgi School, Latham Primary School, Red Hill Primary School, Weetangera Primary School and Amaroo School will be learning remotely until Friday.
All students at Black Mountain School and selected year groups at Southern Cross Early Childhood School, Charnwood Dunlop School and Harrison School will be at home until at least Monday.
Year 9 and 10 students at Caroline Chisholm School will be at home until May 24.
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