At breaking point: NSW educators share their struggles as lockdown is again extended
An early childhood educator, employed by the New South Wales Department of Education, has contacted local news source The Illawarra Mercury, sharing her concerns about feeling unsafe attending work in light of the continuing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
She described those working in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector as “the forgotten workers and carers” who are being put at risk needlessly by “complacent and selfish parents”.
The preschool she works at, the educators said, refuses to enforce care to children of essential workers or children at risk only, saying that every day the numbers of children on site grow as families complain that children are “too bored” being stuck at home.
“Last year our lockdown attendance numbers were a modest 10 per cent a day. This lockdown we are consistently over 50 per cent attendance every day,” the educator said.
“Every day staff are made to put the community’s children first before their own as they have to choose between a job caring for children who could otherwise be cared for at home by stay at home parents and parents working from home.”
“How can schools, funded by the same department, mandate that children cannot attend if there is an adult present in their home, when early education cannot?” she asked.
She said that as a collective, educators are “a workforce at breaking point” and feel they are “being taken for granted and taken advantage of”.
“If we fall, so will all the real genuine essential workers with children.”
Responding to the claims, a Department of Education spokesperson said at the current time, early childhood education and care services (including out of school hours care) were considered an essential service and may remain open, so long as NSW Health has not directed a service to close.
“The Department has advised parents and carers to keep children at home unless they need to be at school. Services can make their own determination in line with their policies and procedures regarding attendance and are encouraged to address individual needs with families,” the spokesperson said.
“The Department continues to work closely with services and providers to provide information and support in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, including through the establishment of a COVID-19 support team”.
To access the original coverage of this story, please see here.