As the Omicron peak exceeds 500 cases a day in Northland, principals are ramping up measures to cope with more staff required to self-isolate.
Some Whangārei Boys' and Girls' High School classes are rostered home to provide cover for classes with a "limited pool of relief teachers".
Whangārei Boys' High principal Karen Gilbert-Smith, in an email bulletin to parents and students, said many staff members were away and the number was expected to grow over the next two or three weeks.
WBHS Year 9 to 13 classes are rostered home one year level each day of the week.
Gilbert-Smith thanked the parents for providing information about Covid-19 testing and results and said it was reassuring to have accurate and up-to-date information.
At this stage, the rostered plan is implemented till this Friday but can continue until the school returns to a situation where enough staff becomes available to cover classes with the full school present.
Gilbert-Smith said rostering students home allowed the school to continue face-to-face teaching with all of the students for four days of the week.
"In doing so, we maintain that critical sense of normal life for the boys, which is so important through these times.
"The year level which is rostered home will not receive work on their rostered day, and we do not expect staff to set work for the classes. Instead, staff will cover classes of absent staff, in the times when they would normally teach classes of the absent year level."
Across the road, Whangārei Girls' High adopts a similar approach but it only affects students from Year 10 to 13, who are rostered home by year each day from Tuesday to Friday. Year 9 students are expected to attend school every day.
On Friday, some teachers of Year 13 classes supervised junior classes while the Year 13 students worked independently, and those students isolating as household contacts were able to continue with their learning through Google Classroom in most cases.
However, in an email to the community, principal Anne Cooper pointed out these strategies were not sustainable and said they expected more staff to be away as "we head towards the Omicron peak".
Starting today, Year 10 to 13 classes will be rostered home each day, with the situation to be revised on Thursday.
Cooper said this was a busy time for students, especially seniors, as assessment dates loom large and so students could expect plenty of work to do.
"We all know that there is now no 'normal' but we have shown over the last couple of years that we are able to adapt to this new hybrid method of teaching and learning.
"Students will gain valuable independent learning skills, develop resilience and other important 21st century skills."
Last week, 25 students from Dargaville High School tested positive for Covid-19.
Fortunately, most of the students were already isolating, said principal Michael Houghton.
Houghton said the school was affected by the case numbers quite early on, and so some teachers and students had started to return.
"But then more cases continue to come. At the moment, we are managing with school relievers and have looked up at possible plans if more staff are unable to work."
The school is following a hybrid model, with students who are learning remotely can access the same material taught in the class through Google Classroom.
Students who cannot access online classes have been provided with hard study packages.
"There's a number of students away, either with Covid or due to panic. Usually, when there is something like this going around in the community, parents want to keep their kids at home or the students decide to stay home."
Houghton said student absenteeism was a big concern, but they were doing everything to let the parents know that school was a safe place for students.
"Some students are working remotely and it is going well, but it is not a good long-term plan.
"A school is a safe place, everyone is masked up, all the teachers and staff are vaccinated, and other Covid protocols are in place."