Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader and Education spokesperson
Despite Tasmania taking a more informed and safer position on school closures than what’s being pushed by the Morrison Government, confusion still reigns in school communities and many teachers are highly stressed as Term 2 starts.
The evidence gathered from the coronavirus pandemic so far suggests schools may be a lower risk environment for transmission, but they are certainly not a no-risk environment.
When teachers return to school environments with children they are placing themselves at potential risk of contracting the virus and passing it on to people they love.
Any politician or economist who tells us otherwise is being dishonest.
If schools are such safe places, as the Prime Minister would have Australians believe, why haven’t we seen any evidence from government to support this claim?
Teachers, parents and students need absolute clarity about the level of risk involved in school attendance and what protocols are being developed to the mitigate these risks.
What guidelines are school principals and teachers operating under in Tasmania? Is there consistency across schools, or are decisions about how many educators are needed on site being left to principals and made on an ad-hoc basis?
As we understand it, most Tasmanian teachers are still expected to be physically present at school, and this is elevating stress levels for some.
Teachers are performing a vital service during this pandemic. They must be supported, and those who are able and wish to teach online classes from home need to be supported to do so.
With much smaller class sizes, it should be possible for more education staff to work from home.
While it’s the start of the new school term and online teaching is being extended, we’d encourage the Education Minister to listen to teachers working on the front line. They will tell him they need more support from government than they’re receiving now.