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QLD Teachers Are Not Your COVID-19 Babysitters

March 24, 2020 in Teacher Life - No Comments

QLD Teachers Are Not Your COVID-19 Babysitters

March 24, 2020 in Teacher Life - No Comments

*Language warning – this post contains strong language*

*Note to add that this post is not belittling or ignoring the similar situation that other professions are in (healthcare, retail, transport and logistics etc). This is a teaching blog, and this post is purely about teachers.*

Across the world we are seeing leaders shut down their countries as best they can in order to stem the flow of COVID-19. Physical distancing (the term WHO is now using instead of ‘social distancing’) is encouraged, and even mandated, in every possible situation.

Everything is shutting down.

Except QLD’s schools.

Our Prime Minister has maintained through this crisis so far that schools remaining open is the best course of action. It took a good few weeks for him to try and attribute this decision to anything related to children’s education – before that it was only ever about the difficulties of parents caring for their children at home, or the impact on the economy, or the impact on essential workers.

Almost like schools are designed to allow parents to work; a safe haven, if you will, where young people can spend their days so their parents are free.

Oh, and schools are suitable places for lots of people to congregate. Because apparently keeping schools open is less of a risk than keeping cinemas open, or pubs, or beaches.

Because apparently this virus is not spreading in schools, children and young people are virtually immune and won’t get sick bad and won’t pass it along to others in the community.

*eye-roll*

And we get it. We teachers really do. We understand the stark realities that closing schools would/will/do have on the population at large. But don’t now pretend that you’re keeping schools open for educational purposes. Don’t pretend you care about the health and wellbeing of the educational workforce, or of the students, or of their families.

The nail on the head for me personally was the moment Parliament was closed down, until August, because it’ll be safer for them that way.

Safer for *them*.

But schools are to remain open. Schools that don’t have access to and are running out (or have already run out) of sanitation products. Schools that can’t possible clean every classroom between every lesson. Rooms that physically don’t allow for the new physical spacing requirements given the number of people expected to be in them. Crammed hallways and staffrooms and toilets and locker areas where students and staff are forced into physical closeness and connection. Teachers who may be in the vulnerable categories, but are still expected to remain in these physical conditions.

Oh wait! I forgot! Parents are encouraged to keep their children home where they can! Don’t worry too much about their education though – the teachers *will* provide all the educational resources your children need to stay up to date.

Resources that they are not being given extra time for.

Teachers are literally doubling their workload so that the students in front of them get their lessons, and those at home are also getting their lessons. This is not a case of a simple adaptation – this is actually, really, physically, double the amount of work, with no extra given time.

I’m lucky in that I started my maternity leave before we were hit hard here in Aus. I know I’m lucky. I’m out of the classroom and not personally having to work through this shit-show.

But I’m angry. And I’m not alone.

Below are sentiments from my fellow teachers.

__________

Don’t. Even.

Okay, so we got “thanks” for the “important job” we’re doing. Keeping healthcare workers in jobs. Makes sense. But those healthcare workers work in conditions where social distancing is possible, they are provided gloves, masks, sanitiser, soap, scrubs, etc. Meanwhile, my school is running out of toilet paper and there are no paper hand towels in the student toilets.

He doesn’t want kids to miss out on “a year” of their education. Bullshit. We are prepared to go online. We have been preparing for weeks, in addition to our face-to-face teaching. We are prepared and willing to work from home. We are not looking for a holiday, but safety for our own families. And, now we are being told that we must provide online and distance education for those whose parents have kept them home?? So, now we must do two jobs??

He suggested that parents may choose to keep their children at home. You know what? I’d love that choice. My older daughter was born with only one kidney, my younger daughter was premature and is still tiny. While both are healthy we still need to be careful of infections and viruses, but we don’t have the choice to keep them home as both my husband and I are teachers. I’m fucking terrified for them.

Pubs, clubs, cafes, etc., are closed. Prepare to bunker down. Except if you work in a school. Where 1000+ students are crammed into close quarters. Where kids cannot concentrate for fear and worry. Where students will sit in classrooms that have had 3 classes in them already that day, but no antiviral wipes to wipe their hands, desks, and chairs with. Where kids and teachers cannot physically keep a 1.5m, let alone a 4m distance, from each other. Every speech from the PM has been about taking the social distancing guidelines seriously. Yet no answers about what support will be provided to schools to keep us all safe.

Scomo: “We have to live very, very differently.” except if you’re a teacher.

Fuck you, Morrison.

__________

I feel in danger.

I feel scared.

I feel like nobody cares.

I feel like a babysitter.

I feel like, if I tell the school that I’m a vulnerable person, taking time off will still be looked down upon.

I feel policed by admin, who visit staffrooms to monitor what we are saying at lunch.

I feel mad that someone went through our staffroom and stole our hand sanitizer and tissues after the school couldn’t provide them.

I feel lonely because my family told me I’m too much of a risk to see them anymore and I go home to my own empty house.

I feel tired because I can’t sleep at night.

__________

Just scrolling through any of the news channels posts about schools shows how teachers are feeling. I posted on one of them to defend our profession when people called us lazy, selfish and idiotic. Got smashed in the comments by more people telling me I was stupid and lazy. I can’t look at fb news now, it makes me so sad to think that we are viewed like that when I know how hard we work for their kids.

This perception of the public is a consequence if the government not acknowledging that we are putting ourselves and our families at risk.

__________

Most of my students don’t have access to technology at home. I worry for a lot of them because school is their safe place, where they get fed, socialise and are free from the troubles at home.

On the other hand I have 4 children of my own that I will also have to homeschool. I’m lucky that my husband is a SAH parent.

With a crowded curriculum already and now having to prepare for closure I am feeling quite overwhelmed. But I keep going because I know my school community are relying on me.

I have kept my own children home but I keep going to school which adds to my anxiety for fear of bringing home the virus to my family.

I feel like breaking at times.

__________

From a totally different perspective … I can’t wait for a time when I can remind people of just how little we needed end of term C2C assessment in Early Years (and beyond, but I can only speak for myself). I think my students will do better for not have a huge chunk of their learning time wasted with age inappropriate testing techniques.

__________

I feel less motivated to do anything because of uncertainty of everything. Daniel, my boyfriend, asked me on Sun arvo whether I needed to do some work or not. I replied “Don’t know”.

It killed me that not knowing what I should do. This is not me.

I’m so glad that Teachers Union stood up and spoke out on behalf of us. The points they mentioned must be on agenda, which schools and Department should discuss with us. However I completely understand that the situation is rapidly changing even from QLD Health Chief Adviser’s and Prime Minister’s end. So indicating a clear guidance is harder than usual.

I get it.

And school closures impact a lot to economy and they want to keep it last resort, I understand that as well.

But at least there should be a meeting to discuss how schools and EQ department are planning to support us and inform us their “just in case scenarios “ won’t hurt at all.

As you know teachers are time poor and we can’t handle more work than what we’ve been doing already.

Yesterday I had 12 students (of 24) in my class. There’s no point teaching.

__________

Hi, I am a Pre Service Teacher and a Parent. I have to say that the decisions being made by the Government in regards to the safety of Teachers and families leaves me both saddened and scared.

Allow me to give you some context, I have 3 children, 6 ½ M, 3 ½ F and a 4 month old F. I have a father who suffers from chronic lung issues (potential chronic lung disease but he hates doctors). My University is one of the ones that has pre-empted the shutdowns and has already gone to online only teaching modes for all classes this is possible in. (I believe they have split the other classes into smaller lots between the teachers to allow for correct social distancing, but I am not sure as all my classes have gone digital.)

About 2 weeks ago I opted to remove my son from school. While his health was a consideration, I was also considering his infant sister and younger sister, who would both be much worse effected than he would if he brought it home. I was also considering my Father (the one with the chronic lung issues) who babysits for us 3 times a week to help us out.

Children may be more resistant although I haven’t actually seen anything to suggest that except what the government was saying. They may survive it better, but I have 3 people in or close to this household who would not get through it very well, if at all. My decisions were made based on the concept of keeping it from spreading to those I love. As a teacher I would be reacting exactly the same.

As much as I am passionate about teaching and care about students, why would I become a teacher if I didn’t, I would want to ensure that I didn’t bring anything home, or alternately I didn’t bring it to work. Teachers are currently struggling to implement distancing to kids who are watching adults all go to the beach in massive groups and not understanding the difference. This would be an impossible struggle for them to both explain why adults are not doing it, and implement it with the students.

Personally I would like to see ALL teachers walk off the job and show both the QLD and Australian government that their lives are more important than the threat of kids missing a year, and on that note, does it matter if you child finished school at the age of 17 or the age of 18? Will that drastically change their lives? Will lung scarring from Covid-19 change their lives drastically?

It seems like such a simple choice to me.

 

If you would like to add your own sentiment as a QLD teacher, pop it into the comments below. Alternatively, contact us through Facebook and your thoughts will be added to the main post.

Stay as safe as you can teachers, physically and mentally.

Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

Emily

Emily is a secondary science and math teacher in Australia. She enjoys sharing the real and human teacher life, facilitating the ‘light bulb’ moment in her students, and drinking tea and wine.

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