Youngsters in Year 2 at Meanwood Primary School had just spent a fortnight at home after a child tested positive in their bubble when they were sent home for a second time last week. Now the same has happened to children in Year 4.
With more than 300 Greater Manchester schools already confirming Covid cases since the beginning of the academic year, it’s feared that ‘yo-yoing’ in and out of class will become the norm for pupils.
There are also concerns over the impact this will have on not only their education, but parents’ ability to work.
In a letter to parents, Meanwood’s headteacher Helen Vyse stressed the situation was unavoidable and necessary to keep children safe – adding that parents commenting about it on social media was ‘not helpful’.
“Please be assured that we are not making up these rules – we are following advice from Public Health England and trying extremely hard to ensure that as many children can come into school as possible,” she wrote.
“All we want is for all of our children to be back at school – we do not want to be sending children home. If we have sent your child home we have done it for one reason – we want to keep them safe.
“You can help us by ensuring that they are self isolating and not mixing with other children outside your household – if they continue to do so the cases in school will continue to rise and we will be forced to close bubbles again and again. None of us want this.
“It is also not helpful for parents to be airing views on Facebook – this is not our fault and we cannot go against government advice. If your child or anyone in your household is ill with any symptoms of Covid, please do not send them to school – phone 119 or go onto the NHS website to book a test. Many thanks for your continued support.”
There have been four positive cases at the Churchill Street school since the beginning of term, affecting children in Years 1, 2, 4 and 5.
Mrs Vyse told the Manchester Evening News : “We fully appreciate how frustrating this is, but our priority is always the safety of everyone at school.
“We’re working hard with home learning for our pupils and staff are in frequent contact with pupils and their parents/carers. We are fully committed to supporting our families at this challenging time so that we can work together in ensuring children still thrive in their learning.
“It is so vital that all our parents/carers following the guidance in place to not bring children in to school with symptoms, that way we can all support each other and keep our school bubbles open.”
Are you worried about the impact of isolation on your child’s education or your ability to work? Have your say in the comments below
Turn2us is a national charity providing practical information and support to people facing financial struggles. Staff there are worried about the impact of bubble closures on families.
Campaigns manager Varun Kanish said: “For each child that can’t go to school, there is a parent who will lose income. Children at home mean parents can’t work due to childcare responsibilities and many can’t afford to replace free school meals.
“The coronavirus pandemic has left millions of people struggling to stay afloat and children yo-yoing to and from school will only further increase the financial hardship countless families are facing.
“With the furlough scheme coming to an end, it is vital the government draw up new financial support packages so that parents aren’t pulled into poverty and children have the stability needed to thrive.”
Schools are reminding parents of the need to keep pupils with Covid symptoms off school and to book a test. See Rochdale Borough Council’s guidance here.