If there is anything that has proven to be an indicator of the changing times of COVID, it is education.
We are now two years into this rotten adventure and the ups and downs, the fears and small triumphs, the confusion and the ripple effects – all of them have manifested in the classroom.
From the extremes of long-term home-schooling in Victoria to the on again-off again approach of New South Wales and the delayed impacts in Queensland, our school-aged children have ridden the roundabout.
Let’s hope not too many of them have been flung off as it escalated without warning or slammed to a halt. Because, as much as this has been a difficult time for teachers and parents, our kids have had a muddled, confused experience where just about everything has changed.
And yet they are expected not to.
They are expected to return to their friends, or their schools, or back home to their families, as if it was a normal, routine year in which they could achieve their myriad tasks at the normal rate with the normal level of achievement.
As adults, many of us have – maybe for the first time – felt like we had limited control over our own lives. We have had restraints we never expected that have kept us isolated, masked and at home.
I’m not complaining. I’m still alive and so is my family.
As COVID has become widespread, the fear has reduced along with the symptoms. Our country has certainly seen worse times.
But as little control as we have had, our children have had less. Sometimes they have not known from one week to the next, or one day to the next, whether they will be in school or out of it. They have not had family holidays or friend gatherings to look forward to.
Many of the predictable, routine things that help their school time move along have been removed.
Now, as we face our children going back to school, we can’t once again take this as the signal that we are “back to normal”. We need to take into account their interrupted education, their own fears through this journey and the fact that we really don’t know what the next few months will bring.
We have new guidelines, new restrictions, new rules, as we have for every term for the past two years. We are entering the RAT period.In this rat-infested era, I am yet to meet a single RAT.
I believe they exist, but they are rarer than the spotted quoll. I’m looking forward to an introduction this week as we do a pick up at the school gates.
Then we will need to swab our child’s throat twice a week until further notice.
What a world we live in. And, while we are still alive and well, let’s help our kids stay that way.
Marie Low is a freelance journalist.