The Committee for Public Education (CFPE) invites educators, students, parents and working people in Australia and internationally to participate in an online meeting on Saturday, November 13 at 4.00 p.m. (AEDT), to discuss the urgent need to build a movement opposing the reopening of the school system amid widespread COVID-19 community transmission.
There is no scientific basis whatsoever for the rushed return to face-to-face teaching. Like its international counterparts, the ruling elite in Australia is acting not according to medical science but in the interests of profit. Schools must be open and unvaccinated children brought back into classrooms so their parents can be herded into workplaces. This is necessary for the economic “reopening,” with corporations given free rein to maximise profits without regard for health and safety.
Australia’s political establishment insists that children and young people are not at significant risk from COVID-19. This is a blatant lie. There is now a clear body of scientific evidence on the substantial risks posed to children and young people by the disease, including long-term neurological and respiratory effects.
Both science and international experience shows that schools have acted as vectors for the virus. In the UK more than 108 children have died of COVID and thousands are suffering from long COVID. In the US over 2.1 million children have been infected in the last three months with more than 230 child fatalities.
In the past five weeks in Australia over 200 schools have closed in New South Wales and more than 400 in Victoria. Schools in regional centres account for a growing number of school clusters and positive cases among children and staff. Already in Victoria 13 percent of all infections are among children under 9-years with 28 percent of those who catch the virus aged under 19.
In response, authorities are lifting the most basic health measures, with infections to see only specific classrooms asked to isolate, instead of whole schools and new guidelines about what constitutes a close contact. Not only has a scientifically-based strategy of eliminating the virus been dismissed, but many elementary mitigation measures are being junked as part of the new “let it rip” agenda.
Throughout the pandemic, the teacher unions, including the New South Wales Teachers Federation (NSWTF) and the Australian Education Union (AEU), have functioned as mouthpieces of the political establishment, relaying official health guidelines while working to block any independent action by educators and school workers in defence of their health and safety.
Educators and students need to take matters into their own hands by forming rank-and-file safety committees in every school, independent of the unions, to organise resistance and defend the lives of staff and pupils, including the right to fully-resourced online learning.
The CFPE has played the leading role in the fight for the formation of these committees in Australia, drawing on the critically important experiences of educators in North America, Europe, and Asia who have likewise organised independently of their trade unions.
The CFPE online meeting will review these experiences and outline our perspective for mobilising a unified struggle of school workers, students and working people, on an internationalist and socialist program.
Register in advance and promote the meeting among educators, students, colleagues and friends!