Exhausted Australian parents face bitter judgement for refusing to homeschool their kids during lockdown, while schools remain shut as Sydney’s Delta crisis worsens.
A woman recently sparked outrage by revealing she was still sending her children aged 12, 10 and six to school due to her ‘very demanding’ full-time job, while thousands juggled responsibilities in a bid to quash the latest Covid outbreak.
The Harbour City’s 5.3 million residents have been in lockdown since June 26, as New South Wales continues to record its highest daily cases since the pandemic began in early 2020, notching 753 new infections on Tuesday.
Under current orders from the NSW and Victorian state governments, parents and carers must keep children across primary and secondary school at home unless they cannot learn or cannot be cared for at home.
Healthcare workers are seen at a drive through Covid vaccination centre in Campbellfield, Melbourne, on August 23, 2021, as Victoria and New South Wales continue to battle a fresh wave of coronavirus infections
The mother, who said she tried homeschooling at the start of the coronavirus crisis last year but stopped because it made her feel anxious and binge drink, told Kidspot her kids are happy to be at school while she gets peace, quiet, and time to exercise.
Weeks later her decision is still sending shockwaves through Facebook, with parents slamming it as ‘selfish’, ‘entitled’ and disrespectful to essential workers while others defend the mum saying: ‘You should walk a mile in her shoes.’
‘What entitlement this is,’ one woman wrote.
‘This isn’t someone doing it tough – she has more balance than most in ‘normal times’. Getting work done uninterrupted, a walk at lunch, relaxed times with kids?’
She continued: ‘This makes me mad – there are people juggling it all and it is so hard, but this is just disrespectful to the school and to others trying to keep it as together as possible.’
Homeschooling rules for Greater Sydney during lockdown
Under current orders from the New South Wales government, parents and carers in Greater Sydney must keep children – across primary and secondary school – at home unless they need to be at school.
Schools and outside of school hours care (OOSHC) services are open for any child that needs it.
All non-core curriculum related activities are to cease on school sites.
Schools should not turn away any student from attending the school site in person. Schools will provide a program of learning for students who attend school, and students who are learning from home.
Students must not attend work or school if unwell, even with mild symptoms of COVID-19. Any person with any COVID-19 symptoms must be sent home and not return to school unless:
- they have isolated for 10 days, when no medical certificate is available
- they have a negative COVID-19 test result and are symptom free
Source: NSW Government
Many echoed the criticism, branding the mother ‘selfish’ and accusing her of being part of the reason Australia is trapped in an endless cycle of shutdowns.
‘This is why lockdown isn’t working and cases are still increasing, because people are being selfish,’ one woman wrote.
‘I’m a single parent too, working from home and home schooling two kids. Why should this parent have the luxury of sending her child to school when others do not have that choice?’
A second called it ‘an insult to the rest of us doing the right thing and struggling’.
Meanwhile others got defensive about the education system, with some arguing that teachers should not be put at risk just to make life easier for parents at home.
Young Sydneysiders arrive at a vaccination hub in Homebush in Sydney’s west on August 23, 2021, as tighter restrictions come into force across Greater Sydney
‘The fact is lockdown applies to schools as well,’ one woman wrote.
‘Schools are open for students who are vulnerable or have both parents leaving the house to work or have a disability. I wish I had time to exercise and start work at my own leisurely pace.’
A second said: ‘School is supposed to be for essential workers. The teachers have all been directed to stay at home – remember we have not been prioritised for vaccination and also have families and elderly parents of our own.’
Others said while it would undoubtedly be easier to send kids to school, they have kept them home to comply with official health advice and do their bit to slow the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant sweeping NSW and Victoria.
Victorians do their bit to stop the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant by lining up to be tested at a Covid testing site at Shepparton Sports Precinct on Tuesday, August 24, 2021
‘I too work from home. I have a three-year-old, a kindy and one in year 3. Would I love to send my kids to school? You betcha. I have never felt more stress,’ one mother wrote.
‘I feel like I am failing in all aspects, but I won’t send them to school. Why? Because the health advice says otherwise… for a very valid reason.’
Another added: ‘Good on you for ignoring the guidance of health authorities so you keep your own personal life easier.’
But some threw support behind the single mother sending her kids in regardless, with one woman urging her to ‘do what works for you’ and ignore the hate.
‘Power to you. I know exactly how you feel,’ she wrote.
‘I’m a single mum trying to homeschool a special needs child. Those who have responded with angry emojis, shame on you for judging – you have no idea what she’s dealing with…walk a mile in her shoes first!’
A single Sydney mother’s decision to send her three kids to school in defiance of public health orders ignited heated debate among Australian parents and teachers, who say they are struggling and are also at risk with elderly family to care for (stock image)
A second agreed: ‘I don’t get the hate. She has to do what she has to do, as does everyone else. Don’t mum shame, we have enough negativity going around.’
Others felt the fault lay squarely with the state government’s handling of the current outbreak.
One man said schools should remain open even for two or three days each week with staggered drop-offs and pick-ups to ease pressure on parents.
‘It so hard for parents working from home and then expected to do school. Kid also need the social side of school,’ he wrote.
‘Our children are suffering and as parents we are mentally drained and exhausted.’
Another said employers have an obligation to be understanding and facilitate staff who are homeschooling while stay-at-home orders remain in place.