Dear Mr Prime Minister,
It is 4.16 am on 21/3/2020 and I am unable to go back to sleep. I write when this happens. I am writing to you.
I wrote to you at the time of the bushfires and received a response listing all the fabulous, wonderful, brilliant things you seem to think you did to turn the world right again. I detected a tone of admonishment in your response. Recently you have become very good at admonishment!
The thought that woke me up this morning was a wondering moment. I am wondering how many politicians’ children are still going to school each day. Are your daughters?
My daughter is a teacher. She is a gifted, passionate, wonderful compassionate teacher. I spoke to her last night. One of the things she said really struck home. She explained how she had spent the morning before the start of classes, separating desks, wiping down surfaces, checking the online facilities and then “Mum, you know what? The bloody PENCILS! They share the pencils!” She brought this to the attention of the school executive and was given one box of extra pencils. What do kids do with pencils when they are musing? They chew on the end of them. They put them in their ears. They twist them round in their hair. They have been known to stick them up their noses. They stick them into each other! What did you do? Is it really possible for one person, or two people to oversee what every child in a class of 20, or in some cases many more, is doing every minute?
My daughter and others are providing resources from home to ensure that thing are sanitised. She is protecting herself. She has two dependent children one of whom attends the same primary school.
I am 68. Her childrens’ paternal grandparents are older than my husband and me. We all have conditions that make us more vulnerable than younger people. We are not in a position to care for any of our grandchildren. We cannot visit them. We are not alone of course! Her adult daughter is a student at university and lives away from home.
PLEASE CLOSE THE SCHOOLS!
Now, its not your fault that you and most politicians do not have a clue about how schools and in particular, classrooms function. When you visit them, the staff have usually had notice of your impending arrival. Kids have been prepped for days beforehand. Protocols have been explained. Classrooms tidied up. Special activities and events rehearsed and performed. So you cannot be expected to know of the extra pressure on teachers and support staff as parents drop their kids off before school and express, to the point of tears, their concerns about things in general and their children in particular. The teachers and support staff CANNOT GUARANTEE that their children will not be exposed or, worse yet, become symptomatic. I was a teacher for forty years. I was on executive teams. I retired in 2016. Things have changed I know, but not that much really. I believe that after the call to be a parent there is no greater calling than the call to teach. If our teachers get sick what then? Some of them are getting sick already.
PLEASE CLOSE THE SCHOOLS.
It seems to me that our teachers and support staff are expendable! Relief teachers are a dime a dozen. This is not a statement about their quality of teaching or their professionalism. Schools could not function without them. They just can’t get jobs! Its a “budget” thing! My grandchildren will not be adversely affected for life if they are out of school for however long it takes for us to get ahead of the curve, build the bridge, cushion the impact, keep on running or any other jingoistic platitude you or your team might come up with. In the event of their mother becoming ill or, heaven forbid, dying that impact will be unmeasurable!
PLEASE CLOSE THE SCHOOLS. PLEASE PROTECT OUR TEACHERS AND THE STAFF WHO SUPPORT THEM. IT CANNOT BE BUSINESS AS USUAL WITH OUR MOST PRICELESS RESOURCE – OUR CHILDREN.
I know its one of those Federal/State issues, the out clause that was used during the bushfire crisis, but can we allow it to put at risk our children?
I have had it clearly explained to me that the virus in children is not as bad, unless of course they are chronically ill themselves with life threatening conditions. Can that really be a reason for continuing to expose them to the risk of infection?
Have we become a people so focussed on making sure the budget will balance and our political party will win the next election that we can do this to our children, to our families?
PLEASE CLOSE THE SCHOOLS.