To whom it may concern
To whom it may concern,
My name is Lisa ___ and I am an ASD Class Teacher in a mainstream school setting.
The reality of our country’s circumstances and fight against this killer disease is being portrayed very well across all news channels. The Taoiseach himself today spoke out to say “The personal decisions that each and every one of us make over the coming month will directly affect how many more people get sick and how many more people will die. It is as stark and as simple as that. We are in a battle against a deadly and ever changing virus”.
It is my strong belief that the decision our government has made to keep some schools open will undoubtedly lead to further spread, further sickness and further death in our beautiful country.
The decisions, and at this point, predictable lack of guidance and clarity with reopening some educational settings is causing panic, stress, anxiety and fear across many households tonight.
Parents unsure of whether their child’s setting is in fact opening on Monday. Parents who are afraid to send their children in but in the same breath don’t want to be left without support they so desperately need and deserve and so have to make that fateful decision of whether or not to send them in at all. Parents of children with educational needs who have not yet been provided with an appropriate school setting and are coping as best they can with placements they have, only to be told that their child will not be given in person teaching. Parents of children who cope well in mainstream with SET support but who will not receive access to in person teaching.
Teachers, SNAs, escorts and bus drivers who seem to be thought of as faceless and somewhat disposable are in fear for their own safety and that of their own families. Who will mind their children, some of whom also have special educational needs? Who will mind their families if they get sick? Who will care for their sick and needy relatives and loved ones? How will we protect ourselves in our classes because, let’s be very honest here, pods and bubbles and whatever other suggestions you want to throw at us, well they just don’t work for our children.
We are privileged to work with some of the most amazing children of this country, children that we love and care for every day but they are also children who do not always understand the need for physical boundaries and distances that you so eloquently keep referring to. When they spit or bite or lash out at us they are simply trying to communicate with us and they need to be comforted, consoled and listened to. Unfortunately, this Covid19 virus doesn’t discriminate.
You are, quite simply, putting the lives of our children, their family’s, us teachers, our invaluable SNAs, escorts and bus drivers and all of our families at risk. If it were a life or death situation I would understand a little bit more. Medical professionals across the country are fighting to protect us all, they are being selfless and courageous and I cannot thank nor applaud them enough. They are the ones dealing with life and death situations but your decisions will no doubt exacerbate the difficulties they are facing and will continue to face in the coming weeks.
As I said, keeping schools open is not a life or death situation or decision. Quite simple you have a choice. One choice puts many of us in a precarious situation and the other choice helps to keep us ALL safer.
Schools being closed is not ideal and I am not so naive to think that everyone will agree with me, I am sure there will be an abundance of people who disagree on every level with me and what I say here and they are entitled to do so. I understand and empathise with them. I understand and see the lack of support we are all given on a daily basis within the field of Special education. I understand and acknowledge that children may and will regress. I accept that parents and siblings need respite, and although schools being closed is a huge inconvenience for many, it is one that will ultimately save lives.
We are educated, passionate and dedicated professionals who endeavour to provide the best education for our children that we can under any given circumstances and that does not change because we are not in a school building and are working online. Is it a perfect solution? By no means is it, in fact not for a long shot BUT if it keeps more people safe in the midst of a pandemic then it will get my vote every time.
If it is not safe for SOME, it is not safe for ALL!
These are my thoughts, my opinions, my feelings and my concerns and I hope they find you well.