'Teachers as canon fodder': Read this fiery open letter in response to looming full capacity classes

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"We see no sympathy, no compassion and no understanding". (Engin Akyurt/ Unsplash)
"We see no sympathy, no compassion and no understanding". (Engin Akyurt/ Unsplash)

A local teacher wrote in to Parent24 to share an open letter to the Department of Education in the wake of the return to full capacity classes. She shares "the trials and tribulations faced by teachers," calling for better Covid-19 safety measures to be implemented at schools. 

Read her hard-hitting letter below. 


The Department of Education is discussing the return to full capacity.

My school will return to full capacity as of Monday the 3rd of May 2021.

I will have 31 learners in my class, sharing desks, with a divider between them—a divider not provided by the department or school to keep the children safe. No, the divider I had to purchase myself to be allowed to do my job as my class is too short and narrow to accommodate 31 individual desks. A divider that, for the safety of the children, should have been provided by either the school or department. 

We were platooning.

I had 17 in one group and then 14 in the other. I only posed a 1/17 risk or a 1/14 risk when we platooned. Now it's a 1/31 in a poorly ventilated classroom heading into winter.

'They recklessly throw teachers as cannon fodder to Covid-19'

We head into full capacity knowing that come end of the day, the learners clamber into their taxis and take off their masks with reckless abandon when leaving the parking lot.

From having asked the children myself, the learners say they don't understand why they can play with their friend at home and have sleepovers but at school must maintain social distancing. 

Does anyone within the walls of the Department of Education understand the trials and tribulations faced by teachers everywhere in this self-serving land? No.

They sit perched within their cosy offices, able to keep themselves distanced and isolated while they recklessly throw teachers as cannon fodder to Covid-19. No care or consideration is given to the mental or emotional havoc this has had on us.

No offer for counselling to just get us through the day. Not even a box of tissues to wipe away the tears of fear and anxiety that steadily and readily fall daily. 

Also read: 'Dear Angie, you don't know what we're going through': Teacher shares an emotional open letter

'We wait with bated breath' 

The vaccination rollout is too slow. It is lacking in efficacy and details. Gung-ho, in the beginning, assuring essentials workers we'd be protected.

Yet we wait. We wait with bated breath just to know when we might register, let alone hope for an actual vaccine in itself!

The burnouts are real but pray tell, does anyone give a damn? 

Because we see no sympathy, no compassion and no understanding when you take to the screen, only complacency. We see a goal of 10 weeks of school irrespective of the physical and mental toll on students and teachers alike. 

We see drastically shorter holidays making children return to school unruly and tired and not wanting to work as they haven't rested as children should.

We see no financial support to aid in making the return not easier, just bloody possible! We see teachers who, already earning a limited salary, having to provide dividers, wipes, and sanitiser because, and I quote, "The Department says that they will not send any more". 

'I am exhausted'

These "wonderful" 5 days off for our first holiday have done nothing to alleviate the burnout as teachers don't have full holidays because planning for the next term has to happen sometime. I am not alone in feeling this burnout. This fear. This anger. This disregard. 

I ask you this one question, knowing it will go unanswered:

Where is our protection?

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