Kylea shares her week on the campaign trail

Week 18: Trying to understand how the pandemic will shape 2022

The start of any new school year has always brought with it both excitement and anxiety. But the stakes feel much higher than usual this year as families across our community try to understand how the pandemic will shape 2022 for them.

With just 11 days left until school begins, we are still waiting to hear what the NSW Government is expecting of families and their children, and how it sees the system coping with what will undoubtedly be another “playground” for Omicron to spread far and wide.

Will the return to school involve regular Covid testing for our children, and if so, how? Have we been fast enough with planned vaccinations? Will masks be required? Will canteens be open? School buses: will they run as normal or will loads be limited? What will happen to the teachers who get sick? Is it even safe to send our children back to school with Omicron infection rates still running relatively high?

 It feels to me like yet another example of plans being left to the last minute, and the data shows that many families are concerned. According to survey results released earlier this week by The Parenthood , only 1 in 5 parents feel it is safe for children to return to school, while another 14% are unsure.

Both our state and federal governments must do better. For while the provision of education is a state responsibility, the Federal Government has a role to play in providing guidance, leadership, and where necessary, reassurance for families right across the country. It is the Federal Government’s responsibility to ensure all states and territories are working together constructively, as a matter of urgency, to develop and communicate a clear, coordinated national plan that ensures it is safe for all children, teachers and other staff to return to school.

We often hear politicians say “our children are our future” and yet when it comes to situations like the one we find ourselves in, our current government’s approach is more akin to that opinionated bystander who likes to stand back and chime in with what you could be doing differently, without offering any real support or reassurance.

As a mother of teenagers, I’ve been fortunate that my three are old enough to take responsibility for their own online learning during the pandemic, only occasionally asking for my help with a tricky question or to provide moral support. The past two years have surely been more challenging for those with children under the age of 12 – I want you to know I take my hat off to you for everything you have navigated throughout this pandemic and while it may not seem like it, this too will pass.

Nelson Mandela once said: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.

As we move into our third school year since the pandemic began, I hope we as a community will be more aware of the challenges and additional stresses young families are facing in educating and caring for their children, and do what we can to offer kindness and support.

Let’s be the change we want to see, North Sydney, and bring true leadership back to Canberra.

 

KT

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