PARENTS face more heartache as schools send THOUSANDS of pupils home over fears they have Coronavirus – when it is often just a cold.
And the situation is being made worse by a nationwide shortage of tests.
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Government guidelines state, “if anyone in the school becomes unwell they must be sent home” to self-isolate and take a test. Entire households must isolate with them.
A single confirmed case is enough to send an entire school year home, causing chaos for families whose kids have no symptoms at all.
And scores of parents have reported having their kids sent home with the slightest cough or runny nose.
Here we speak to mums whose kids’ lives — and those of their families — were turned upside-down, while our graphic compares a cold to Covid.
Kay Sawyer’s daughter Amber-Jayne, who is in Year Eight, is self-isolating after a confirmed case of Covid 19 at her school just four days into the September term.
Mum-of-three Kay, 32, who lives in Welwyn Garden City, Herts, with partner Liam Smith, 24, and her children Amber-Jayne, 12, Freddie, 11, and Ryan, 14, says: “Although Covid-19 is dangerous for some people, I think there is a huge over-reaction.
“There’s this idea that if we keep kids at home, the virus will disappear. We need to learn to live with it.
“Amber went back on September 4 and was so excited. Four days later I got an email telling me a child had tested positive, which meant the whole year would have to self-isolate for 14 days.
“She struggled being inside for months through lockdown and not seeing her friends.
“Amber is having virtual classes for six hours a day.
“It is no substitute for being taught in a classroom.”
Five-year-old Kayode Oseni had only been back in school three days when a case of coronavirus meant his Year One group of around 90 children had to self-isolate.
His mum Charmain Keenan, 35, who lives in Staines, Surrey, with Kayode and five-month-old daughter Anaiyah, says having a smaller number of kids per bubble could be the only chance of keeping them in school.
She says: “It is a nightmare because Kayode was really looking forward to going back.
“I thought he would’ve been in a class bubble of 30 children but because there are three classes who mix at playtimes, the bubble was bigger. This was bound to happen at some point but I am shocked it has happened so soon.
“I am still on maternity leave but that ends in February. If Kayode has to self-isolate again, I won’t get paid if I take time off.”
Kelly Miller, 37, says son Harrison, eight, should be in the classroom because it is a battle trying to get him to do school work at home.
Kelly, from Leeds, says: “Harrison was anxious about going back to school but couldn’t wait to see his friends.
“The school was well organised. They split the year group into two class bubbles of 30. But on day four I got a message from another mum saying Harrison had been in contact with someone who had Covid-19. Now the whole of Harrison’s class is having to self-isolate. But trying to get a boy his age to do school work at home can be a battle.
“He wants to play outside or on his iPad.”
Jane Hamilton, The Sun’s Employment Editor, was forced to pay for a private test in a bid to get her kids back to school after one got a temperature, meaning her two youngest had to stay home too.
She says: “Understandably, schools are being cautious. But draconian guidelines mean kids are being sent home to quarantine simply for having a cold or a sore throat.
“Every child will get a cough or a sneeze over autumn or winter yet if common sense isn’t applied, kids face two more weeks without schooling.
“My two youngest sons were sent home on Wednesday. Their crime? My nine-year-old was hot after running around the playground and had a sore throat. My six-year-old had no symptoms but was marched out along with his brother.
“After leaving work to collect them, then spending five fruitless hours refreshing the Government testing website, I cracked and spent our Christmas savings on a private £185 test.
“The result was clear, so the boys can go back to school next week. But it will only be a matter of weeks until they get another sniffle and are sent home again.
“But we’re the lucky ones — we managed to find enough cash for a private test. For many, the cost is a week’s wages. And with no free tests available, needy kids will be imprisoned at home, missing out on vital school time.
“To fix this mess, two things need to happen — fast. Firstly, schools need to be given clear guidance on when to send kids home, what the Covid symptoms are and to exercise common sense.
“Secondly, free Government testing needs to be ramped up quickly and vulnerable kids who missed months of schooling under lockdown prioritised, with key workers.
“Yes, lives matter. But the livelihoods of working parents and life chances of children matter too.”
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