HIGH school teacher Mary Grace is on doctors orders to stay out of the classroom until the coronavirus outbreak flattens, but she has not completely left her students behind.
The former St Paul’s Primary School teacher for English as an additional language who also does relief teaching was advised by her doctor to put her teaching career on hold because she was in the high risk category for COVID-19.
“In the end of 2018 I was in hospital for two weeks with pneumonia,” Ms Grace said.
“As soon as there was a threat my doctor said I had to take it seriously because I’d been a teacher working in school.
“I had to make the decision before everybody else that I couldn’t go into schools.”
Ms Grace, who is the sister of Brisbane priest Fr Michael Grace, said Brisbane Catholic Education and St Paul’s Primary School principal Matt Mackinlay “were super supportive” of her decision to end her contract at the school.
However the decision to self-isolate has put another burden on the Grace family.
Up until March, Ms Grace was the sole income earner for her family household of four.
“I’ve been buying the food, the clothes, paying for the doctors, and what have you, all that has come out of my wage,” Ms Grace said.
While Ms Grace and her sister are eligible to receive benefits from the Federal government’s Economic Support packages, her family’s ongoing medical costs means the subsidies may not be enough.
So like many teachers around the world, Ms Grace has turned to online tutoring to create a new income stream for her family and support families who are faced with the prospect of pulling their children out of school.
As well as being backed by 10 years of teaching, Ms Grace has another advantage up her sleeve – she was homeschooled in her Jimboomba home during her high school years.
With her new business up and running, Ms Grace is already supporting her young cousins from New South Wales and nephews and nieces living in Brisbane.
She said she’s looking to support parents “who want a bit more support” in creating a learning environment as they navigate distance education during the pandemic.
“The idea you can take school and put it in the classroom and voila, home schooling, doesn’t quite work that way,” Ms Grace said.
“You can actually much more easily tailor things to your child’s needs.
“It’s a different learning environment and I think that needs to be acknowledged.”
Ms Grace said her biggest advice to parents was not to feel guilty for setting a routine that looked different to that of their child’s school.
“So there’s a very strong routine that follows school but you don’t have to do that at home, because you’ve probably only got two or three children who you’re with,” Ms Grace said.
“If younger children work better in the morning, try and get all school work done in the morning, or if they have a teenager who would rather sleep in the morning, let them sleep in and do their school work in the afternoon.
“Also if you’ve got a little one and you get some work done and they want to go run around outside, you can let them because you’ve got much more of a concentrated focus with work being one on one.”
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