Canberra's parents and citizens associations are disappointed that COVID-19 has robbed them of the chance to host the traditional sausage sizzle at school polling booths as they scramble to find other ways to raise funds and engage the community in school life.
The Education Directorate put out advice to schools last week that fundraising activities should not be held near voting sites, including cooking and selling the democracy sausage.
President of the ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations Kirsty McGovern-Hooley said it was very sad the fundraising events wouldn't be able to go ahead but parents understood the health and safety reasons behind the decision.
"We're very much a victim of our own success. We know they are successful events and they really work," she said.
"They work because they keep people on site to spend some of their money and catch up and talk. And that's not the intent behind social distancing."
Very few public schools don't hold a sausage sizzle during territory and federal elections.
Ms McGovern-Hooley said in her experience the election day barbecues could raise about $2500 to $3000.
If other activities and initiatives such as cake stall were also held on the day, parents and citizens associations could raise up to $5000.
But the money is not the only factor contributing to the success of the democracy sausage stand. It is effective in engaging the wider community with projects and people at their local school.
"It's such a time-honoured tradition, and they don't have [elections] very often," Ms McGovern-Hooley said.
"Particularly if your school doesn't run a fete, there's not many opportunities where we get the broader community coming into the school grounds."
The pandemic has thrown up many challenges for parental engagement in school life. In April and May parents became more engaged than ever in their children's education during the short period of remote learning.
Now the pendulum has swung the other way with parents and other community members barred from going into school grounds for volunteer roles and events such as assemblies.
Besides a few school-based activities for children, such as discos, Ms McGovern-Hooley said parents and citizens committees were unable to hold their usual fundraising and community-building events.
"When you look at what P&Cs do, most of what we do is about bringing the community together," she said.
"We hold fetes, we hold sausage sizzles, we hold events where we get people together and socialising and obviously in a year like this it's very very tough."