“While the advice is that school is as safe a place as any, I want my kids to keep their routine and learning… keep calm and carry on, that sort of thing,” writes columnist KATE MEIKLE.
AS our community rides the waves of uncertainty, concern and panic, a lot of worry out there is being directed to whether schools should be open or closed.
My fellow mums are divided and genuinely conflicted. It seems most experts believe schools are safe to stay open, but not all.
Do we even trust the advice?
Some of my interstate friends have already elected to take their children out of school. Mums are sharing their home-schooling strategies online, including templates of daily schedules of home-based activities, plans for bushwalks, that sort of thing.
I have heard that schools in NSW have been inundated with calls and emails from parents who are requesting home learning resources, and reports of teachers being abused about their school remaining open.
This is all despite the fact that (as of March 19), the government has decided that schools should and will remain open, families are considering what they will do, and many see closure as a future inevitability.
I feel that right now our kids are safe at school, so long as there are no outbreaks at the school or in the neighbourhood.
Teachers also need to be safe at work, especially those in the older age bracket and perhaps not enough of this debate has centred around teacher health and safety.
But overall while the advice is that school is as safe a place as any, I want my kids to keep their routine and learning… keep calm and carry on, that sort of thing. Also I worry about what to do with them at home for an extended period of isolation.
The idea of homeschooling them, farming them off to grandparents (who are in the higher-risk category) or chucking in work are not great or viable options to me and many of the parents in my orbit. Especially when working parents are feeling insecure in their jobs and business is uncertain. We need to keep working for many reasons.
One anonymous poster on the popular “Canberra Mums” Facebook group wrote on Thursday: “Since it is very likely that schools and childcare would close, I started to worry about who would take care of the kids. Two kids 9 and 3. I am a single parent and have no grandparents here. My job can’t work from home. Any mums in the same shoes and any suggestions?”
The suggestions ranged from asking one of the childcare educators to be a nanny for your kids, using casual workers or uni students who are out of work to babysit, and splitting the care between yourself and another parent.
The ideas are well-meant, but the ramifications of early childhood educators being privately contracted to mind your children, brings troubling issues of quasi, unregulated family day care scenarios being created, and this brings with it it’s own safety issues for our kids.
Kids certainly are better off at school for now.
Ex-pat relatives who are living in Vietnam have experienced a seven week-long school shutdown, only to be now told that their kids’ school will remain closed indefinitely.
How would our local families and workforce cope with such lengthy closures of schools, with the looming threat of job insecurity and standowns? I wonder how we would adapt, it feels like this new dimension of pressure to the already intense juggle that working parents experience, would be enough to create incredible emotional and financial stress. And what about single parents and those working in the health sector who we desperately need to remain at work?
If they were to close, we need to consider when the schools would be opened again. For the parents who have already taken their kids out of school, I wonder what the future ideal conditions would be before they would feel comfortable to send them back again.
The reality is that these families are facing a very long time of home-schooling. And the overseas schools shut-down experience is a good lesson for Canberra to remember. Once closed… which brave government official will reopen the schools and risk getting it wrong?