How It Feels to Stay in Lockdown While My Students Return to School

Neli Austin
Laptop and books.
Laptop and books.

On May 11, Jacinda announced we would be moving from Level 3 to Level 2 on Thursday with schools set to return “as normal” the following Monday.

The teaching Facebook pages and WhatsApp groups come alive with teachers joyful to be returning to busy classrooms and happy children. However, I had to come to the realization that I would not be returning, not for a while anyway. I have ankylosing spondylitis and the medication I am on suppresses my immune system. Because of this, my rheumatologist had said I would be safest returning at Alert Level 1.

While other primary school teachers busied themselves preparing for a return to their classrooms, sorting out resources and looking for colorful things to make their rooms feel safe, I had to reconcile myself to the fact that life at home was continuing for a little longer.

For me, it has been the hardest alert level so far because while everyone else has returned to some sense of normalcy, I am trapped in the lockdown phase. While my class returns with social distancing and COVID rules in play, I am limited to seeing them over Zoom when the reliever remembers to set it up. While my colleagues have meetings and catch-ups together at school, I am limited to seeing them over Zoom. I have discovered it is a lot harder to have a meeting over Zoom when only one of you is online and the others are all in a room together.

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Yesterday, it was announced it would be another four weeks until we go down to Alert Level 1. Four whole weeks. That is almost the end of this term. It’s a long time without the normal routines of work to fill the week, but I am going to have to get used to it, to stay safe.

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