Relief for Clarence teachers amid pandemic

Clarence Valley schools will remain open according to the latest government announcement. But this time, new changes are in place to provide relief for teachers. 

Despite the cancellation of festivals, concerts, and closure of venues that draw large numbers, NSW schools have remained open, much to the dismay of staff. 

However, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced that from Tuesday (March 24), schools across the state will only cater to children who have no alternative for at-home care. 

"Schools will remain open based on health advice, however, for practical reasons, parents are encouraged to keep their children at home," she said. 

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"Last week, 30 percent of parents had already made the choice to keep their children at home."

In addition to these changes, the NSW Department of Education has released a suite of online resources for teachers and parents to use. It's a move one Clarence Valley teacher has welcomed. 

"I'm feeling a lot more supported," they said.  "The Department of Education's website looks to be a supportive and useful resource that will ease many teachers in this stressful time."

The teacher, who wished to remain anonymous, said the past week had been a "rollercoaster of worry" and disappointment due to the government's seeming lack of concern for their wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

But that has all changed since this morning's announcement.

"With less students at school, the measures that Sco-Mo put in place last week are much more achievable," the teacher said. 

"The first time I heard about the 1.5m rule in schools I was shocked because that's simply not going to happen. Anyone who's set foot inside a classroom will know that if you have a class of 28 students, it's physically very difficult to keep a 1.5m distance in a classroom."

One of the biggest concerns for staff was the increased chance of passing on the virus to a family member. 

"I have someone in my family who has a compromised respiratory system and, by continuing to go to work, I'm putting them at risk," the teacher said. 

"But as long as most parents can keep their children home out of the exposure then I'd feel more comfortable about the risk of spread and also going to the frontline of this exposure myself."  

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