Illawarra teachers say they have been treated with contempt and slammed the lack of consultation by the NSW Government, after finding out about the return to full-time face-to-face teaching via Monday night's television news.
"It is difficult to understand why teachers, who are most affected by the return, were not first to know and not in any way consulted," one Illawarra high school teacher said.
"There has been a considerable lack of consultation through the whole process."
"We redesigned what we do in 24 hours at the end of term 1, successfully. We have been managing to teach in the last two weeks both face to face and online simultaneously.
"We have planned and prepared for the phases we were told would exist but now have to go through yet another overhaul of our programming to implement phase 3 quicker than we thought.
"I do want to have kids back in the room but there is little recognition of the amount of work that goes in at a classroom teacher level and also at an executive level to change the way we deliver lessons and run the school.
"Only two weeks of a phase that took hours and hours to plan, process and implement does not seem worth it."
Similarly, an Illawarra primary school teacher said the government had "allowed no time for teachers or kids to get used to online learning or coming back to face-to-face integrated with online learning".
"All the work teachers have done in record time has been completely ignored and treated as mere time filling," she said.
The NSW Teachers Federation's Wollongong organiser Duncan McDonald agreed, and said the union had been fielding a high volume of calls from teachers worried about the fast-tracked return to face-to-face teaching for all students.
"Certainly learning about things through the media, particularly during a crisis, a lot of teachers are expressing that this is downright disrespectful," he said.
Mr McDonald said most teachers had worked over their holidays to up-skill for the online environment, and developed detailed plans and timetables to make the combined online and face-to-face teaching work.
"We've had schools being told to design their own timetables to suit their local context, and find solutions to almost impossible problems," he said.
"They've also had to focus on needs on year 12 students and the most vulnerable students who are safer at school, and they've had to juggle that with keeping vulnerable teachers in the workforce at home, and continuing to deliver the remote learning for the other 75 per cent of students not in class."
He said teachers - and also parents - were "very anxious and concerned" about the much faster timeline back to normal than was first advised, and held particular concerns about the education department's ability to deliver a safe environment.
"The reality on the ground in schools is quite different than what the politicians would have parents believe," he said.
"There has been increased cleaning, but that looks very different in different schools. "The impression we have cleaners in the school cleaning hard surfaces between surfaces - like desks, computers, railings and keyboards - is not what schools are reporting is occurring.
"Often it's teachers and students wiping down the desks between classes to take that extra care in terms of hygiene.
"There's also still concern about the provision of hand sanitiser and soap, and of most concern is the level of provision of PPE in some schools [especially those with students who have additional care needs].
"In some cases, under the current contracts, cleaners have two minutes to clean a class room on a daily basis, and we would question whether that's enough in the current circumstances."
President of the Primary Principals Association Phil Seymour, formerly principal of Hayes Park Public School, said he believed it was time to get all students back, but agreed it was "a shame" principals and schools had found out about the announcement via a leak from the NSW Cabinet.
He said many schools had already been dealing with higher than expected numbers of students attending in the past two weeks, which is why the association had agreed it was time to "bring them all in now".
"It was causing issues because we had staff who didn't have to be at school, who then needed to be at school, and it was getting a little difficult to manage," he said.
"Now, we've got a week to sort this out, which in some schools will be a breeze but in large schools may pose a challenge.
"But this will get kids back to their classroom and in front of their own classroom teachers, and that's a good thing."
Mr Seymour said he would be meeting with senior education department officers on Tuesday to discuss the many outstanding issues principals were facing.