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'The teachers of Australia are not prepared or equipped to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.'

An open letter to the decision makers of Australia,

I am a NSW public school teacher, and I challenge the view of our leaders that is safe to keep schools open. I urge you to consider the words of frontline staff – people like me.

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We are told that keeping schools open is currently the ONLY option to allow healthcare workers to do their jobs right now. We are told that it is ‘un-Australian’ to close. We are told to take ‘extra precautions’ such as washing our hands.

Well, myself and my colleagues would like to counter that argument. We were never and have never considered not providing supervision of healthcare worker’s children. We are extremely capable of providing suitable options for this. But keeping schools open, in the way they currently are, is in complete opposition to all the other health advice we’re being given.

If you have ever met a teacher, you would know that we set a world standard for handwashing, even when there is not a pandemic, so there is little room for improvement. But right now, there are minimal handwashing resources left for us to access.

It feels like the honest reason the community would like schools to remain open is that people believe teachers are simply highly trained, expendable cannon fodder in the face of the virus. We are not healthcare workers. We are not babysitters. We are not prepared or equipped.

‘’Children only get it mildly!” you chant over and over. But we all know that doesn’t mean they can’t, and won’t, spread it to others. To teachers and office staff and cleaners. The huge number of Australians who work in schools.

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If one of the darling little students coughs directly into my mouth (non-teachers would be AMAZED by how frequently this occurs) then, yes, that child will likely be fine. But if you, the teacher, are not, the sense seems to be: “there’s plenty more where you came from.”

You can tell me over and over that I am wrong or misinformed. But really, I am exhausted.

Experts are touting social distancing as the most effective measure of virus control, and I agree. But I would love to meet whoever decided this could be feasible in a class of 35 students.

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It is simply IMPOSSIBLE to keep 35 students four square metres away from each other. In our standard classrooms. It doesn’t make any sense.

What we can do is simple. We can close schools. Yes, the economy will take a hit. But I would choose lives saved over supporting the economy. Yes, parents will have to juggle even more than they already do.

But there are other solutions to making sure healthcare workers and key workers will not be affected. We will look after you and your children the best we can. We support you.

Teachers don’t want to abandon at-risk children. We don’t want to send children off into the world with no means of accessing education. We want to protect kids. But we need support, we need time to prepare and we need you, the decision-makers, to care.

So, what if I swapped positions with you? I am not insinuating that your positions do not require you to make extremely tough decisions, but I feel that you do not have that same respect for me. So, I will come to make the tough decisions; but in a nice, safe, sterile office and you can come to school and cop some mouth coughs. We all need to make sacrifices.

From,

A teacher who has run out faith and hand sanitiser.

P.S. Health care workers you are the best and I’m so sorry that your kids are being used as political collateral. I promise we won’t stop you from doing your jobs. We want to help. Safely.

The author of this story is known to Mamamia but has chosen to remain anonymous for privacy reasons.

Feature image: Getty.

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