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'I found out on Facebook.' 5 teachers share how they feel about returning to school full-time.

On Monday, it was announced that NSW public schools will return to the classroom full time from next Monday, two months after COVID-19 restrictions forced around 800,000 children to study remotely.

“It’s a normal school week from next week and they need to be attending. Rolls will be marked as normal and unexplained absences will be followed up,” NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said on Tuesday.

However, many teachers are not pleased with how they discovered the return to full-time schooling, with NSW Teachers Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos saying the union had not been consulted before the government’s decision.

He said teachers had already planned for the previously announced staggered return to school, with face-to-face learning gradually scaled up throughout term two.

“This caused a lot of concern, frustration and anger among teachers and principals across the state. They turned themselves inside out not once, not twice, but repeatedly, trying to come to terms with this crisis,” Gavrielatos told ABC television.

“This is a pandemic that we find ourselves in… that’s what makes what happened last night even more important and more disrespectful.”

Listen: The risk And reality of a COVID19 second wave in Australia. Post continues below audio. 

Mamamia spoke to five teachers about how they discovered the news of the return to full-time schooling, and how they feel about it. Here’s what they had to say.

Primary school teacher, NSW.

I went on Facebook last night and saw an article and was shocked! I checked my staff emails and there was no information. I messaged every other teacher I knew and no one had any idea except for seeing it on Facebook.

We all found this out through Facebook, except for those who don’t seem to have social media, who found out when Gladys Berejeklian announced it this morning. The principals were not informed so they were unable to inform us!

There has still been no official communication from the department or our union. It was infuriating to find out on Facebook! But I don’t blame any principals or teachers or the Department of Education, as they all found out at the same time as I did, in the same way. Which is disgusting!

I think it’s been a really hard time to navigate. I have been frustrated by the way we’ve been treated, but I don’t blame anyone.

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Year 4 teacher, NSW.

I work at an independent school and our headmaster has been communicating with all the staff as decisions are being made. Obviously independent schools have more autonomy about how we will return to school but we are being informed by the appropriate government agencies.

Although we don’t know what’s happening with lots of notice, it’s often because the decisions haven’t been made to give us notice about.

We have been very well looked after and very included in communication.

Watch: Here are the things teachers never say. Post continues below video. 

Video by Mamamia

High school teacher, NSW.

I found out watching the news, and then I got an email from my principal saying she had just found out watching the news too.

I don’t feel comfortable going back. Yes, it will be easier to teach face to face, rather than online, but I feel like the safety of teachers has been ignored this whole time. Some of the protocols we are being asked to implement will not be feasible in an actual schooling environment.

It’s hard to be in a very populated environment and be told I’m safe, yet I can’t congregate with friends on weekends over a certain number. It’s the contradictions between the advice given to everyone else and then schools that is so frustrating.

High school teacher, Queensland.

School announcements are made in press conferences. That is just what is happening right now. This is not unique to NSW. The same happened here in Queensland when it was announced that some students would return in week three and the rest in week five (next week).

I don’t think there is a better way to get the information out really. At least we all hear what is happening and the message is consistent. With stuff changing so quickly it would be impossible for all schools and staff to be notified first with a reasonable amount of time to process the information and come up with a plan before it is announced to the general public.

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Yes, it is a bit strange that the whole of Australia hears about changes to your workplace at the same time that you do, but what is the alternative? I can’t wait for my students to return next week! I miss them so much.

Year 1 teacher, Victoria.

I work at an independent school in Victoria, teaching year one. After the press conference given by Premier Dan Andrews announcing some year groups would return on Tuesday, May 26, our school put out an announcement for parents via their Facebook page.

Staff were given no confirmation or reassurance until two full days later when we got an email from the principal about it. I have loved my time in isolation and teaching remotely, so for me, I’m really sad to be going back into the classroom. The fact that we won’t have social distancing at school makes it a lot more stressful – I can’t believe that kids don’t transmit COVID-19 in significant ways. Now that I’m going back to work I have to put my daughter in daycare again which I am also concerned about.


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