Communist Party of Australia

We acknowledge the Sovereignty of the First Nations’ Peoples.

Home


The Guardian

Current Issue

PDF Archive

Web Archive

Subscribe

Press Fund


CPA

About Us

Why you should ...

CPA introduction

CPA Policies

CPA statements

Contact Us

facebook, twitter


Major Issues

Indigenous

Unions

Health

Housing

Climate Change

Peace

Solidarity/Other


What's On

Resources

AMR

Links


Shop@CPA

Books,
T-shirts,
CDs/DVDs,
Badges,
Misc


 

Issue #1911      April 20, 2020

NO FACE-TO-FACE TEACHING IS SAFE

The federal and NSW governments launched a coordinated and organised campaign in the first week of the school holidays to prepare the ground for restarting face-to-face teaching in mid-May. The government campaign appeared to be a deliberate strategy to “soften” community and teacher opposition to any early return to the classroom. The Queensland Teachers’ Union was quick to refuse support for any proposal that put its members at risk by returning them to face to face teaching and significantly raised the risk of community spread of COVID-19.

MORE CONFUSION AND CONTRADICTION

The community lockdown is in place until the end of June, and quite possibly much longer, to stop COVID-19 spreading. Even the decision-making processes of parliament are “on hold.” There is no plan to open parliament before the rest of the community. The message is once again confused and contradictory.

It is clear COVID-19 is disproportionately adding to the disadvantage already being experienced by vulnerable and disadvantaged families and communities across Australia. While true, this cannot be a reason to ignore the health risks of exposing teachers and students to unsafe school environments. This is particularly so as restarting face-to-face classrooms is not addressing the needs of disadvantaged students.

TEACHERS TO SUPERVISE DISADVANTAGED AND VULNERABLE

Before COVID-19, the NSW and federal governments did little to tackle the inequity in education. In fact, both governments pursued policies which further disadvantaged public schools and their students including freezing capital works programs in the public schools, stripping the NSW Department of Education of qualified consultants and support staff, and underfunding public education. They actively supported the creation of a two-tier education system underwritten by large taxpayer grants and subsidies to private and independent schools.

The NSW and federal governments are now anxious that government-driven inequity does not become a political issue. Restarting face-to-face teaching as soon as possible will give the appearance that governments are really concerned about inequity and disadvantaged students despite their longstanding actions to the contrary, but it will not address the substance of the issues it is claiming will be fixed by sending children back to classrooms. It may provide supervision for students who do return to school and free up some parents to work.

DOUBLE THE WORKLOAD

Delivering equitable teaching and learning will continue to be impossible as it is likely many families will continue to keep children at home. This is because a significant number of families will continue to consider sending their children to school is an unacceptable risk and the government and health experts messages are still confused. If schools return to face-to-face teaching in this situation teachers’ workload will double as they will be expected to provide classroom lessons and online lessons.

At the same time, no plan has been announced to protect teachers and students from COVID-19 with temperature checks, gloves, masks, and provisions of adequate soap and hand sanitisers. Schools are not safe places. Teachers and students travel to school across suburbs. Public schools are not equipped to ensure hygiene practices are in place and consistently adhered to. Children are still learning to self-regulate.

WINTER IS COLD AND FLU SEASON

We are heading into winter when children are often ill with colds and flu and other respiratory illnesses, including asthma. The public health system cannot cope with the extra pressures of illnesses spread through schools at this time. Teachers and students should not be put at risk of COVID-19 when the rest of the community is expected to physically distance and stay at home.

Lost education can be caught up through various strategies when it’s safe again. Public schools can be funded to reduce class sizes, employ interventionist and specialist literacy and numeracy staff to “catch up” disadvantaged students and schools when the health crisis passes.

If Virgin Airlines can ask and receive Australian government handouts and private childcare can be supported by large rescue packages, then so can our disadvantaged and vulnerable students and schools.

Next article – HYPOCRISY AND PROPAGANDA AGAINST CHINA ENSUES

Back to index page

Go to What's On Go to Shop at CPA Go to Australian Marxist Review Go to Join the CPA Go to Subscribe to the Guardian Go to the CPA Maritime Branch website Go to the Resources section of our web site Go to the PDF of the Hot Earth booklet go to the World Federation of Trade Unions web site go to the Solidnet  web site Go to Find out more about the CPA