It seems strange to be writing this. Normally, on a Wednesday afternoon around this time I’d be getting home from marking books, attending a meeting or planning for the week ahead. Instead, I am writing this. The world seems kind of surreal at the moment. You switch on the television, radio or open your phone and all you hear is COVID-19. The corona virus has been labelled a world wide pandemic and as young teacher, I have never seen the world like this before.
Over the past week the government in Australia has placed more and more restrictions on the way we live our lives. Last night this changed to include most businesses closing and weddings and funerals being limited to less than 10 people. It has included business being inventive in the way staff are utilised to try to keep the economy ticking over, to hopefully keep people in jobs. Our government agency, CentreLink, to assist in welfare payments, have had hundreds queuing every day as thousands now don’t have a job to go to.
Yet in schools around the countries, there are still teachers gathering. There are still teachers teaching students. Over the past few weeks they have coined the phrase ‘front line workers.’ This term, according to the government, refers to those such as nurses, doctors, paramedics and police officers, those who are in the position that in this situation must continue to work. We are still beginning to understand whether children are carriers of the virus, yet, in nearly every country around the world schools have closed. Some are saying this could last 3 months, others the rest of the year.
Out of 195 countries, 156 have closed their schools. A statistic I never thought I would hear in my lifetime. As we’ve prepared for online learning over the past few days there have been many moments where I have paused to take a breath. To hold back tears, to give up and cry uncontrollably and to hug colleagues (sorry social distancing!) as we have mulled over the thought of not returning to work for some time. I’ve had to be strong for the students in my care, being careful to give the facts but not to overshare for worry of their wellbeing. But as a teacher, I’m scared. I have never been in this situation before, none of us have. We are looking after children whose parents are going off to work everyday to help. We are preparing for lessons which may or may not happen at home for families who are no doubt struggling with the same overwhelming thoughts that we are.
As a teacher, the world is strange. Things I can normally explain, I no longer can. The learning spaces are empty, they are normally filled with laughter and love. Adults and children are scared, they are normally filled with such confidence. I don’t have all the answers but I know the world as we know it has changed. I will miss the connection I have with 24 smiling faces who walk through the door everyday. But above all, I am glad they are now safe. Parents have been asked to keep their children home and parents are listening. We are not shut but we are safe and at the moment that’s the best I can ask for.
An Aussie Teacher