Stressed teachers brace for tough term

 

QUEENSLAND teachers say they are bracing for a tougher than usual Term 3 with the COVID-19 pandemic compounding already large workloads, despite just having a six-week break from the classroom.

Queensland Teachers' Union president Kevin Bates said the third term was usually when student behaviour tended to go down with fatigue setting in for teachers.

"COVID is just going to exacerbate that," he said.

Thousands of Queensland students were forced to learn from home for upwards of six weeks amid the pandemic, sparking outrage that parents were having to homeschool their children.

The State Opposition demanded that parents should be allowed to choose whether their child attends school or not.

But Mr Bates said there was no "down time" for teachers and principals.

"During all that time teachers and principals had to move the entire education system into a new mode of delivery - that has never been done before and required massive input from professional staff - and then pivot to moving back into face-to-face teaching within an equally short space of time," he said.

 

Queensland Teachers' Union president Kevin Bates.
Queensland Teachers' Union president Kevin Bates.

 

"The emotional turmoil experienced by the whole community throughout the COVID-19 crisis was an added layer of concern for teachers and principals who spent much of the past 10 weeks at the centre of debate about the economy, COVID restrictions and recovery at the same time as continuing to provide education for the state's 600,000 state school students.

"It's been an extraordinary year and the normal impact of Term 3 will be compounded by those experiences for teachers and students."

Mr Bates said he believed students would also require mental health support this year.

"Term 3 is one where people turn their minds to providing very affective mental health support for workers in schools and this year I imagine there will be extra support needed for students as well," he said.

Education Minister Grace Grace said authorities knew COVID-19 had placed added stress on everyone, including students, teachers, staff, parents and carers.

"And with classes now operating as normal, our schools are well placed to ensure anyone who needs help gets it," she said. "Last week I launched the $8 million Principal Health and Wellbeing Strategy to support school leaders by expanding programs to help principals manage stress and build resilience, piloting a principal support hotline, and monitoring and addressing workload concerns."

Originally published as Stressed teachers brace for tough term