/The parents who will refuse to send their children back to school

The parents who will refuse to send their children back to school

Parents have spoken of their fears about sending their children back to school if a phased reopening of classrooms begins in June.

Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford suggested schools could begin a phased return in June while speaking on the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday.

Mr Drakeford said that “three weeks as a minimum” would be needed to plan a reopening, with special educational needs pupils, year six, and children who learn in Welsh but do not have Welsh speakers at home being the first to be brought back into the classroom.

The First Minister clarified his position on Monday, telling reporters no decision had been made on when to reopen schools in Wales and that he had only said next month was the earliest it could possibly happen.

He further reassured parents that fines would not be issued if they decided not to send their children into school.

Lisa Hodge and her seven-year-old son (left) and five-year-old daughter (right)
(Image: Lisa Hodge)

Lisa Hodge, 31, has two children aged five and seven who attend Glan Usk Primary School in Newport.

She said she did not feel comfortable sending her children back into school until she could be confident it was safe to do so.

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“I’m not sending mine back until it’s safe,” said Lisa.

“If the daily death toll is in the hundreds still then they will be staying at home.

“I say this with a heavy heart because I know my seven-year-old, who struggles in school because of dyslexia, was just starting to make progress so needs to be back in school as soon as possible but not at any cost.

“I personally wouldn’t be comfortable sending them back to school until we know that we are on the way back to normality.”

She suffers with asthma and said she was concerned about the potential for her children to carry a virus into her home.

“We all know kids are super spreaders of everything,” she said.

“Especially at their age. They literally have no clue about social distancing. Telling them to stay away from each other in the playground won’t work.

“It wouldn’t work for teenagers so it definitely wouldn’t work for them.”

Louise Telford’s 10-year-old son attends St Illtyd Primary School in Llantwit Major.

The 36-year-old said her son would not be returning to school initially if schools reopened in June.

“I am terrified of schools reopening,” she said.

“I believe people have forgotten the concept of ‘waves’ within pandemics.

“We have had the first wave, the second will hit when the public desperately scramble for a ‘normal’ existence once more. We are a generation of humans that find schooling our own children very difficult.”

Louise said she managed an autoimmune disease and received chemotherapy, so had been shielding at home for about seven weeks.

“Children are innately unclean, they cough and sneeze without covering their faces and then washing their hands,” she said.

“I’m a single mother so obviously if my son were to return to school and get ill there’s a possibility I would end up in an ICU. He might end up at his grandparents putting them at risk in turn. So there’s a knock on effect.”

In Denmark, the first country outside Asia to ease its coronavirus lockdown, the government began reopening day care centres and schools for children in first to fifth grade about two weeks ago.

On Thursday last week, the State Serum Institute, which is responsible for preparedness against infectious diseases, said there was no evidence the Covid-19 epidemic was accelerating after schools had reopened.

Andrea Lewis and her four-year-old daughter (left) and six-year-old son (right)
(Image: Andrea Lewis)

However, Andrea Lewis, 34, said she would be happy for her six-year-old son and four-year-old daughter to return to Townhill Primary School in Swansea as soon as it reopened.

“A lot of people are bogged down, depressed and wrapped up in the media since lockdown and assume that if you catch the virus you die,” Andrea said.

“We need to build up and toughen immunity to things and locking ourselves and children away will not do that.

“Mine are four and six and I believe to be low risk. They have no underlying issues, good health and they are young, which is not typically one of the categories of people this virus has the worst impact on.

“People should have the option. A lot are living in too much fear and if they want to keep their children off, so be it.

“I do not want others voicing their opinions and stopping my children from starting back to school because I feel safe in the knowledge that if things take a turn for the worst with their health, we have adequate medical support available.”

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