Thousands of Wollongong students may face a week of disrupted learning next month as roads around their schools are closed to cars and turned into a race track for the UCI Road World Championships.
Six weeks out from the global cycling event, authorities are yet to finalise a plan for public schools directly affected by the race, which runs from September 18 to 25, leaving parents and carers with limited time to organise supervision for their children in the event of school closures.
Catholic school communities received answers on Friday, with the principals of Good Samaritan PS in Fairy Meadow and St Brigid's PS in Gwynneville announcing the schools would move to remote learning for the final week of term three.
"During this time, the two school sites will be non-operational and unavailable for regular access by students, parents/carers and staff," a spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Wollongong confirmed.
St Mary's Star of the Sea College informed families in August last year that they would swap the three-week school break from the end of Term 2 to the end of Term 3 so students would be on holidays throughout the event.
Meantime, public schools including Pleasant Heights PS, Mount Ousley PS, Keira High, Wollongong High and Smith's Hill High have yet to advise families of any closures, or information regarding pedestrian access for drop-off and pick-up during race week.
Parents who spoke with the Mercury on the condition of anonymity expressed frustration at the situation.
"It is causing a lot of unnecessary stress as there is no certainty that schools will remain open and without clear direction as a parent I have nothing that I can then use to start a discussion with my employer around work-from-home arrangements during the race," one mother said.
"Living in an area with limited footpaths I'm also unsure how, if my local school does remain open, I am going to be able to safely get my child to school as there will be limited vehicle access during the race period.
"I fully understand the huge positive impact the race will have for Wollongong on the world sporting stage, but surely the logistics should have been figured out many, many months ago."
A local father is concerned by the lack of adequate notice and the potential loss of income should he have to take time off work to look after his children during a school week.
"This year, having had two strike days and flood days, our annual leave is already under pressure," he said.
"The UCI event, held a week before the October school holidays, has created an extra challenge for parents.
"As a single working parent, it's near impossible for me to take leave both for UCI and the holidays, therefore I need to plan well in advance to organise for my children.
"Now that the UCI is just weeks away, parents urgently need to know if they can work during this period.
"If we cannot work, who will reimburse parents for lost income? Clearly some sectors of the community will be making substantial profits from this event.
"But it seems like the locals, who are actually hosting the event, benefit little and instead take the costs on the head."
Another mother described the delay as "unacceptable" given the official race route was unveiled in March.
"As someone who lives so close to both schools my kids go to, and being someone who only works when I want to, I am really not affected that bad, but I do think that the lack of notice for parents who need to make alternate arrangements for their kids on the days the event is running is unacceptable.
"It's a major event requiring so many arrangements to be made, so it definitely should've been finalised by now."
A Department of Education spokeswoman said authorities and organisers were still in the process of devising a satisfactory plan for affected schools.
"The NSW Department of Education is working with schools, Wollongong 2022, Wollongong City Council, the State Government and Transport on a plan to minimise disruption to school operations, teaching and learning," she said.
"The Department and individual schools will communicate any special arrangements with their school communities as soon as possible."
The Wollongong 2022 organising committee released a similar statement, adding "we understand the complexity of school operations and the need for detailed planning".
"We are grateful for the ongoing engagement and discussion with the Department, school leaders and the community."
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