Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Australian Educational Researcher




Centre for Precision Health / School of Medical and Health Sciences / School of Arts and Humanities


Ryan, J., Koehler, N., Cruickshank, T., Rogers, S. L., & Stanley, M. (2023). ‘Teachers are the guinea pigs’: Teacher perspectives on a sudden reopening of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Australian Educational Researcher. Advanve online publication.


Primary and secondary education systems experienced substantial disruption during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, little is known about how public health policy has affected Australian teachers during the pandemic. This study examines teacher perspectives on a sudden change of policy, whereby schools were abruptly opened to students at the beginning of the pandemic. At the same time, strict social distancing rules applied to the remainder of the population. Qualitative data from 372 Western Australian schoolteachers were analysed using thematic analysis. Results highlight substantial impacts on teachers’ workloads and adverse effects on wellbeing. Perceptions that they were acting as guinea pigs and subjected to different social distancing rules than other citizens were particular stressors. Findings highlight substantial consequences of public health policies on the roles and wellbeing of teachers.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.