Canberra mother-of-two Bernadette Blenkiron is worried that her kids are facing another year of school disruption.
Like all parents in the ACT, she's anxiously waiting for more details from the ACT government on how schools will operate in Term 1.
"The thought of home schooling sends shivers down my spine. I'm also a sole-parent family, so I'm trying to work full-time sitting at my desk and then trying to school them and that just brings guilt if I'm trying to work and I can't sit and do the schooling to meet their needs as well," Ms Blenkiron said.
"My daughter Tayla is starting high school and I just want her to be settled and happy and then Riley who's going into year 6 finds a lot of happiness at school but I haven't spoken a lot to them about it until I've heard a decision."
While Ms Blenkiron is eager for her kids to get back to routine and normality with in person teaching, she has become angry about the national response to COVID.
"The government is failing to remind people of their personal obligations to think about other people in this," she said.
"It's all very well to let it rip but the vulnerable and people in society are being left behind and we all have a personal responsibility to not let this rip to keep kids and others out of hospital."
Headspace app mental health expert and clinical psychologist Mary Spillane said many families she spoke to were worried about further disruptions during the 2022 school year.
"I think parents are really craving some normality and structure again and there's not a whole heap of clarity around what will happen if a school has a massive outbreak," Ms Spillane said.
She said the baseline level of stress and anxiety was already lifted after two exhausting years of the pandemic. Financial worries have also contributed to the mental burden.
Ms Spillane said if a child was more tired and irritable, not sleeping well or not wanting to see friends or engage with people, it could show they were struggling with anxiety.
She suggested parents start talking with their children about how they are feeling about going back to school and to try to get into a regular sleeping and eating routine so they are prepared for the first day back. Older children could practice taking public transport.
Paul Odoemena and his wife, Maria, didn't get much of a break over the school holidays as they both do shift work as nurses. He was hoping his children, aged 13, 16 and 20, would be able to go back to school and university with minimal disruption.
"The situation today as it is, everybody is concerned," Mr Odoemena said.
He was hoping that Canberra schools would stay open considering many people infected with the Omicron variant were asymptomatic or had mild symptoms.
However, as a nurse he's also seen what the virus can do to people, even those who were doing the right things.
"It makes you feel the impact because you're looking after people who are sick," he said.
Mr Odoemena said the COVID-19 protocols had changed so much since the end of the last year and would likely keep changing.
"Everything is evolving again. So you can't really say, 'this is how it's going to be, this is not how it's going to be.'," he said.
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