A WEST FIFE teacher has hit back at criticism from parents, saying they "did not plan a global pandemic so we could have a few months off".

In an open letter to the Press, the teacher, who did not wish to be named, was moved to defend her profession in the wake of "disheartening" comments made online.

The Press broke the news this week (page 12) on when pupils would return to school and that next year's summer holidays had been extended to seven weeks.

This prompted a negative reaction from parents who had already claimed that there had been a lack of effort from some teachers throughout lockdown and commented that seven weeks was too long for their kids to be at home next summer.

In response, the teacher had this to say: "It seems strange to me that people tell me they could never do my job, and yet also often joke about our holiday hours and now seem to think we have been sitting around for months.

"Many professions have been furloughed at 90 per cent or full pay and do not seem to have the bad rep that we do. We did not decide to close the schools.

"We did not decide to move the holiday days.

"We did not plan a global pandemic so we could have a few months off.

"It has been heartbreaking to see so many conversations online that describe how we are benefitting from the quarantine when we spend so much of our time trying to think how we can care for and support your children.

"When you are finding it hard to home-school your children, please remember that we had up to 33 in a room at one time.

"When you get angry hearing that some teachers are doing a daily video lesson and some are not, please remember that we are humans who may not all feel confident putting on an online show.

"When you are angry about us not 'sacrificing' five holiday days, please remember that we are not a childcare service but an education service and one that has been working extremely hard and in uncontrollable conditions during the COVID-19 lockdown."

The teacher continued: "The lockdown has been an emotional experience for many families but also for teachers who have lost all the time they spend nurturing, supporting and communicating with learners in the classroom and are now forced to deliver the same experience through a screen.

"I teach an infant class in the Dunfermline area. Saying goodbye to my class for an uncertain amount of time was a difficult and unexpected occurrence and having to set up an online learning system in a matter of days was a huge undertaking.

"When they asked if I would be their teacher again, I didn’t have the answer and felt just as emotional as they were. Now knowing that my time with them is over, and we are returning in August to a different set of learners, I feel extremely sad to have lost an entire term with them.

"No goodbyes, no end-of-year parties or performances, and no summer experience of outdoor learning.

"The last memories of my year with this class is feeling scared, uncertain and washing our hands to two rounds of 'Happy Birthday' eight times a day.

"Since schools shut, many people have asked me what it has been like to take a break from school. This is just as strange to hear as when people say it must be nice to finish at 3pm every day.

"Online learning takes a lot of preparation and co-ordination. Firstly, I must prepare learning tasks, and all the resources for them in a way that is easy to access digitally. Then I must give feedback on work and reply to all the children’s messages. I try to create a sense of community, and a clear online presence, and with this I worry – a lot."

You can read the open letter, in full, on page 38 of this week's Press.