school

'I'm a teacher about to return to school. We're being thrown to the wolves.'

We are not okay. 

As teachers, we have endured two years of being treated as glorified babysitters, being on the receiving end of ire from the community around remote learning, not being trusted to work from home during remote learning and trying desperately to maintain some sense of normality for our students amongst it all.

And we’re lucky – we know we’re lucky – we still have our jobs, we received priority access to the vaccine (albeit a little late), and our industry has not been decimated.

But we are not okay. 

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As school finally resumes face-to-fave learning here in Queensland, it is difficult to ignore the sinking feeling in my stomach. Whilst I am grateful that the school year was pushed back to avoid the peak of Omicron and whilst my heart soars at the prospect of seeing my students’ faces again and meeting my new students, I am terrified.

The resumption of school comes with the following guidelines:

  • Mask wearing for high school students and teachers

  • Masks encouraged for students in Year 3 and up

  • RATs provided if staff or student becomes unwell on campus

  • Access to carbon dioxide monitors to measure ventilation

  • Air purifiers provided if needed

  • Assemblies cancelled for four weeks

In reality, this looks like:

  • Warnings from administration that we are likely to run out of RATs

  • Primary teachers left with little protection due to low vaccination rates in the under 12 age group and no mask requirements

  • Instructions from administration to speak to particular people about ventilation issues, only for those people to have no knowledge of where carbon dioxide monitors and air purifiers are located nor how to source them 

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Furthermore, high school students may remove their masks once they are seated – so as soon as they enter the classroom. 

Our classes are oversized. I will have 32 students crammed into my classroom and, as soon as they sit down, they won’t be wearing masks. And somehow I don’t think img a window, as we’ve been instructed,  is going to help. 

I’m vaccinated and boosted. I will be wearing my mask. But I also have an underlying medical condition and I don’t know how my body will react when (it’s certainly not an ‘if’) I get COVID. And I know other teachers are in the exact same boat. 

I am terrified.

Deep down I can’t help but feel like we’ve been thrown to the wolves. Like we are expendable. 

So I will welcome my students back with smiling eyes and do my best to ease their worries, give them a sense of normalcy, and inspire them but deep down I will know the truth – we are not okay.

Image: Getty.

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