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'Why I Refuse To Send My Daughter Back To Primary School This Week'

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'Why I Refuse To Send My Daughter Back To Primary School This Week'

Today marks the end of the Christmas holidays for many children, with millions of primary school pupils across the country preparing for the first day of spring term.

But not every child will head back to the classroom; with London primary schools forced to close due to rapidly rising cases of Covid-19, some parents outside the capital are taking matters into their own hands and choosing to keep their youngsters at home.

Nadene Bond, 35, from Norfolk, has made the "difficult" decision to keep her daughter, 10-year-old Daisy, off for another week after seeing the staggering rise of coronavirus infections across the country.

Fearing for the health of her family, having suffered with coronavirus twinned with her severe asthma, in addition to Norfolk's own strict Tier 4 regulations, Nadene has decided to homeschool Daisy for this week - and is now calling for a circuit-breaker lockdown with all schools to close in order for children, and teachers, to be kept safe.

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Primary schools have opened outside of London today (Credit: PA Images)
Primary schools have opened outside of London today (Credit: PA Images)

"It was a really hard decision. I don't want Daisy to miss her education," she told Tyla. "But you read all the news stories telling us how quickly the virus is spreading.

"On Facebook there's an NHS advertisement saying we should all act as if we have coronavirus and to stay away from people. That's one message being sent out, but on the other hand, the government want us to send our children into school who can pass on the infections and put teachers at risk as well.

"Teachers have families. The staff have families. I feel like it's my duty to use my common sense, go against what the schools are doing and the government are saying, and think, no, I'm not going to put people at risk.

"I didn't see my family at Christmas because I didn't want to put people at risk. Why is it ok for me to send my child to school and putting people at risk? It's such a mixed message."

Nadene and her daughter Daisy (Credit: Nadene Bond)
Nadene and her daughter Daisy (Credit: Nadene Bond)

Nadene emailed her daughter's school on Monday, explaining why she's hoping to keep Daisy off for the time being.

Despite the school being "supportive and understanding" about Nadene's concerns, and the fact Daisy will be home-schooled over the five-day period, Nadene was told that this will be marked as an unauthorised absence - which could result in a fine should Daisy continue to be absent for five consecutive days.

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Fines start at £60 and could rise to £120 if not paid within 21 days - and could potentially result in prosecution if the fine is not repaid at all.

It's something that Nadene, 35, found particularly frustrating; while London has closed all primary schools in all of its boroughs, Norfolk - also under Tier 4 - is keeping their primary schools open, with parents facing punishment for not sending their kids to school despite cases still being high.

"I have said to the school that I will send Daisy in on Friday after seven days and if the school is Covid secure," Nadene says. "I've got to also protect myself and my family. I feel it's irresponsible to send my child back to school.

"If I can prove that Daisy is learning, why should we be penalised? I am home schooling, I'm doing reading and spellings with her. It's frustrating, as she won't be behind. It should be our choice to keep our children at home, we shouldn't be fined for it."

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Hygiene measures have been put in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus (Credit: PA Images)
Hygiene measures have been put in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus (Credit: PA Images)

Nadene's concerns are not unfounded - the UK has seen an alarming rise in people being admitted to hospital suffering from coronavirus, with a 50 per cent rise in admissions in the last week.

The new mutant strain, which is now the prominent strain of coronavirus in London and the South East, is considered to be spread more easily amongst children, according to some scientists.

With Daisy in a class of 32 children, in addition to a teacher and a teaching assistant, Nadene worries it takes just one person in that group to have been exposed to the virus to spread it to the rest.

As a severe asthmatic, Nadene knows just how dangerous Covid-19 can be to her, and is convinced she contracted the deadly virus from Daisy during the school holidays.

After a day out at an amusement park with her grandparents, Daisy started having an upset stomach, vomiting and complaining of a severe headache. A few days later, Nadene fell ill too.

"I couldn't even go to get properly tested because I was just too ill to make the journey," she explains. "I've never been so ill in my life. It was as if a pillow was being held over my face.

"I was really ill. I couldn't walk to the toilet. I couldn't hold a conversation. There were times where I thought I should have actually gone to hospital. It scared the life out of me. I was so unwell, I am terrified of the prospect of getting it again.

"I genuinely believe if I get the strain again that I had in the summer, I don't think I'd survive. I'm still struggling with my lungs now."

Schools in London are remaining closed (Credit: PA)
Schools in London are remaining closed (Credit: PA)
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Nadene's fear is so profound that she quit her job as a school photographer as a bid to protect herself from the virus.

"I was lucky I was in the position where I could quit my job," she says. "I was too worried about going back to school and putting myself in that situation where I'm dealing with hundreds of children."

Home schooling is not the easiest option for Nadene, who also has a 12-year-old son in Year 8 who is currently off school until 18th January, due to the different Covid rules for secondary schools.

She has a particularly full house, as her husband, who previously commuted to London to work, is now working from home as well.

Having both children at home having to study was often a struggle, with the family only having just one computer to share.

"It was hard, there were some days I was just tearing my hair out," Nadene admits. "The kids had different work and were sharing the computer, I was running out of paper and couldn't get ahold of anymore. It was a nightmare.

"We were asked if we wanted more resources, but Daisy mostly had print-outs and if she needed to get further resources she had her phone.

"We're calmer now about homeschooling, as we know what to expect. You just have to do what you have to do. Education is important, of course it is, but at the same time, so is your health.

"If it's only for a short amount of time, it's not going to do too much harm."

Some are calling for primary schools to close across the country (Credit: PA)
Some are calling for primary schools to close across the country (Credit: PA)

Nadene is keen to stress that she doesn't blame the schools for asking children to return, and instead believes the unclear guidelines and continuous changes to the rules are to blame.

"Schools are doing the best they can," she says . "Rule changes are being thrust upon them, last minute, and parents can't be angry with that. But we can be angry that secondary schools are closed, London primary schools are closed but other ones are open."

She is now calling for a national lockdown to act as a "circuit breaker", and is asking for schools to close to ensure to safe rollout of the coronavirus vaccine

"We have to protect the NHS," Nadene says. "Why not close the schools now, before the hospitals are overrun?

"We need to lock everything down. We've had Christmas, and the government know we've had people mixing and breaking the rules. Just put a two week circuit-breaker in, let people just work with children from home, and then hopefully the numbers will drop. There will be a U-turn as usual, and by then it'll be too late - and we'll have to have a longer circuit breaker.

"I just want the government to use their common sense. Just give us two more weeks - it's not going to harm a child's education compared to a longer lockdown further down the line."

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Children, UK News, Coronavirus, Motherhood, Covid-19

Kimberley Bond
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