WHILE Lismore MP Janelle Saffin agrees with the decision to allow students to return to school full-time from Monday, she says safety must remain paramount and teachers should get a pay rise.
The NSW government has progressed from its staggered return-to-school plan and is satisfied the move for public students to return to school full-time is safe and is the best result.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she was confident that the phase-in of face-to-face learning had worked and that the state could take the next step.
About 42,000 bottles of hand sanitiser, temperature monitors and increased cleaning schedules have been rolled out across NSW to ensure safe environments for students and teachers.
But upon hearing the news, Ms Saffin said “the best thing that can happen for teachers is for the NSW Premier, Deputy Premier, Treasurer and Cabinet to agree to allow their 2.5 per cent pay rise to proceed”.
“It is mean and offensive during the time of COVID-19 to deny them this CPI-type wage adjustment as the Treasurer has now made clear,” Ms Saffin said.
“At least the teachers, students and families have certainty.
“I hope that all have been consulted well and been given clear information.”
She said the NSW Government must ensure the school environment is safest it can be for everyone.
“This means sanitiser in bucketloads, soap galore, more staff to ensure as much social distancing as possible, markers on the ground, and time for teachers to add all of this to their teaching duties,” she said.
“The bus drivers who bring our kids to school need support too.”
Ballina MP Tamara Smith said the move was “the right one” but the last three months had been incredibly difficult for teachers, students and their families.
“Going back to school full-time is the right thing to do as we are told that the risk to young people’s health if they contract the coronavirus is minimal,” Ms Smith said.
But she said teachers need to be supported if they are in a vulnerable category.
“The return to school is welcome but it needs to be clearly monitored and there needs to be guaranteed support for schools through the transition,” she said.
The Northern Star readers had a mixed response to the news.
Julie Mackney said it was “worrying heading into winter and parents were getting mixed messages”.
“A staggered start back one day a week, then next minute back days. Just make up your mind and stick to the plan,” she said.
“All the confusion makes for angry parents. Not to mention all the additional work our poor teachers have had to do with planning for potentially a full term of remote learning – now scrap that!”
Rachael Rankin argued children needed to get back to some sort of normality.
“Closing the schools has affected the kids more than the parents,” she said.
“If they don’t go back now they are all going to fall behind, not just for this year, but potentially for the rest of their school years. If shops are open for people to shop in for non- essentials, how is sending our kids back to school such a bad thing.”
Sarah Ducat said it was about time but that temperature checks should be done at the school gate though.
Tanya Davis asked what happened to the phased approach.
“Not happy at all. To try and force parents is a joke,” she said.