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We were already low on teachers

Omicron is about to show us the full force of this shortage ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

The federal government recently announced isolation rules for teachers will be relaxed once term one starts at the end of January and early February across the country. Now teachers who are close contacts will not need to isolate if they show no symptoms and have recorded a negative rapid antigen test. This measure was put in place in part to mitigate the extensive teacher shortage looming over 2022.

Over the past two years of the pandemic, schools struggled to fill teacher gaps with casual and relief teachers. And with the Omicron variant now causing major absences across many industries, the situation will likely be far worse.

As Rachel Wilson and Giuseppe Carabetta write, Australia’s teaching workforce was already in crisis before the pandemic, due to a lack of respect for teachers, problems with recruitment, poor pay (relative to other professions), a high workload and fewer graduates from teaching degrees. Leaked documents from the NSW education department last year reportedly show the state’s public schools will “run out of teachers in the next five years”.

And unlike many other countries, which are currently dealing with major Omicron-induced shortages, Australia has no national plan for how to recruit and retain the teacher workforce desperately needed for our economic recovery and growth. Without this, short-term measures won’t be enough to meet the disruptions we’re likely to see this year, and into the future.

We were already low on teachers 1

Sasha Petrova

Section Editor: Education

We were already low on teachers 2
We were already low on teachers 3

COVID and schools: Australia is about to feel the full brunt of its teacher shortage

Rachel Wilson, University of Sydney; Giuseppe Carabetta, University of Sydney

With decreasing teacher degree completion rates and low teacher retention, Australia was already facing a growing teacher shortage before the pandemic. But it’s about to get much worse.

We were already low on teachers 4

How to look after your mental health if you’re at home with COVID

Louise Stone, Australian National University

A GP and mental health clinician offers some tips to support your mental health if you get COVID and are isolating at home.

We were already low on teachers 5

63.5% of Australia’s performing artists reported worsening mental health during COVID

Helen Rusak, Edith Cowan University

92% of performing artists experienced significant changes to their work during early stages of the pandemic – and at least half experienced depression.

We were already low on teachers 6

The republic debate is back (again) but we need more than a model to capture Australians’ imagination

Dennis Altman, La Trobe University

The biggest hurdle for republicans is the reality that Australia is already an independent nation. Only sentiment and inertia links us to the British crown.

We were already low on teachers 7

New, exclusive letters between the queen and 6 governors-general show the evolution of a relationship of equals

Jenny Hocking, Monash University

More than 2,000 pages of letters spanning 36 years and nine prime ministers have now been made public, albeit with disappointing redactions throughout.

We were already low on teachers 8

4 ways to stop Australia’s surge in rooftop solar from destabilising electricity prices

Christina Nikitopoulos, University of Technology Sydney; Alan Rai, University of Technology Sydney; Muthe Mwampashi, University of Technology Sydney

Australia has one of the highest rooftop solar installation rates in the world, which is great news for our efforts to reduce emissions. But can the grid keep up?

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