Sunset

What a lovely sunset.

Last night Hawklad reminded me that this Sunday last year was when we first talked isolating. I remember it quite well. A Sunday evening. I was sorting out the school bags for Monday morning. Hawklad came into the room and asked how did we know that this new virus wasn’t already in school. How did we know the bus was virus free. Should we stay off school until it passes. I tried to reassure him but I could sense his anxiety. I emailed the school to let them know that he was anxious. When he’s anxious it can throw off his ability to sit still and concentrate.

He did get to school the next day but not by school bus. He asked to be driven in. A few days later school proved too much for him and our family lockdown started. Soon the world changed.

It’s odd looking back. Its hard to believe that we have been isolating for nearly a year now. I wouldn’t have dreamed that I could have coped with that much isolation fit that long. A world suddenly constricted to our garden and house.

But we have…….

We can do this.

Weather

It’s horrid weather today so let’s go back a few weeks. That’s better.

I heard someone from the Government brush off a parent talking about her daughters genuine fears and phobias about returning to school. Her daughter doesn’t think her classroom and school is safe enough. From the sound of it her daughter is in a similar place to Hawklad. Really struggling. The interviewer cut off the parent saying that she was in the minority and the vast majority would see things much more positively. The message from the Government followed instantly. People and kids who had concerns and fears needed to listen to the majority. Schools are completely safe, just get on with it. Parents have an obligation to send their children into schools when they open.

Meanwhile back here the NHS Psychologist is just at the early stages of a treatment programme to try and help with Hawklad’s deep seated anxieties. No guarantee that the programme will ever work. This week’s task is for Hawklad to try and stand in the front garden for 1 minute. The message is don’t worry if you can’t do that. Even a few seconds will be a massive leap of faith. And if he can’t do it at all then we can try another week. Pushing people with significant fears and ingrained anxieties can do so much harm to their long term mental health.

The Government and the ‘Majority’ are not trained mental health practitioners. They have absolutely no idea what some people are going through. On this issue they can stand out in the rain and whistle for all I care.

It’s a plan

So the Government has set out the way forward. A roadmap. Starting with all schools opening on the 8th March with parents able to play golf or tennis is socially distanced way as soon as the school buses have left the street. Ending with getting the bunting out just before summer with every adult having been offered at least one shot of vaccine and virtually all restrictions lifted. That’s the plan.

This time they have introduced some gaps between the various stages to check on the impact. It’s an improvement on the first lockdown release. Not great but an improvement on the last shambles.

I’m already hearing people talk about booking summer holidays, binning the masks, going to nightclubs. The message is ‘soon it will be over, we will have won….’.

Sadly I’m not convinced yet….

  • Schools are being fully reopened against the advice of many of the Government’s own scientific advisers. Reopened with no meaningful additional safety measures put in place.
  • No plans to prioritise front line groups like teachers or police for vaccines. Apparently this will just complicate things.
  • No thought given to the Health and Care sectors that have been stretched to breaking point for a year now. They can’t keep functioning like this.
  • No plans for under 18 vaccines at all as schools are ‘perfectly safe’ and the kids can develop herd immunity without getting too sick. Yet no mention of the increasing number of under 18s suffering long covid symptoms. No mention of school outbreaks that are already happening even with 3/4 quarter empty schools. No mention of overcrowded classrooms with no ventilation. No mention of the scores of children going down with associated diseases which have been brought on as a result of a seemingly mild Covid bout. No investment in home schooling resources to take pressure off classrooms and create another avenue for education – just threats of fines for parents.
  • The plans assume that the vaccine is the way out of the crisis. No mention of virus related mutations becoming resistant to the vaccine. A real risk when you have high infection rates and delayed second shot vaccine delivery. The vaccine is good but it’s not 100% effective. Plus we just don’t know how long the protection will last for in individuals.
  • The plan is in tatters if a change in the virus makes current vaccines less effective. In that increasingly like scenario the vaccine programme has to completely reset and start again.
  • No thought on making changes to how we work, study and play to make them safer going forward. We seem to be happy going back to the status quo which so spectacularly failed only a year ago.
  • The plan assumes an acceptable level of Covid infections and casualties. This is not a zero virus plan.
  • No mention of the mental health crisis facing young and old in this country.
  • The Virus will still be here…..

So no I’m not planning for a pandemic free future just yet. I hope we are fortunate and the plan does work. But when do things ever go to Plan.

Blink

Blink and it’s gone. Blue sky.

I remember back to my school days. Apart from living in caves and avoiding the dinosaurs, I was like most kids. Some stuff went in to my head easily, other stuff not so easily. Stuff about Physics, Mathematics and Geography went in. Subjects like History the dates would take a lot of effort to stick. Subjects like Chemistry I was ok. However French I was awful, it might as well have been a foreign language…. Biology I was not much better.

Today I was trying to help Hawklad understand Chemistry. He struggles to visualise chemical reactions. So trying to calculate reaction energy levels was a nightmare for him. Whatever we did he just couldn’t see it. That’s the thing with Hawklad, maybe that’s the thing with his Aspergers. He gets blind spots. They go beyond the dyslexia issues. With dyslexia if you read out the word then he can understand what he’s trying to learn. But these nothing seems to shed light for him. Some things he just can’t process and visualise. With a subject like French it’s a massive blind spot. History there are zero blind spots. But with other subjects he can understand most things really well but randomly encounters these blind spots.

Mathematics it’s decimals and volumes

Biology it’s cell structures and names

Design Technology it’s visualising 3D designs

Geography it’s grid references and grid lines

Physics it’s magnetism

Home Economics it’s cooking times

And Chemistry is chemical reaction equations

He can be going along swimmingly then encounter one of these areas and it completely stops him in his tracks. We kind of ignore them now. Blink and move on. Focus on all of the many areas he can make progress on. Hope that the blind spots don’t come up too many times in his main exams.

At the moment that’s our plan.

Zombie

Wow how tired did I feel this morning. Definitely the Yorkshire Zombie. I just couldn’t wake up which is just perfect on the first school at home day for over week. I could just about manage walking into walls, nothing else. In a desperate attempt to wake up before I might be needed to check Pythagorean calculations I crawled outside. The fresh cold air and a coffee would spoon the business. It was only after a couple of minutes that I realised that the mug with the steaming hot coffee was still in the kitchen. I had brought out the jar of instant coffee……

Clearly under 3 hours sleep is not enough. The frustrating thing is that my mind is whirling too fast at night and virtually not at all in the morning. If only that was the other way round. As hard a I try sleep is will only come to me around 4am. Sadly on a school day the alarm goes at 630am.

That is a recipe for Parenting Zombies.

Back

Everyday our little lake shrinks just a little bit more.

It’s Sunday. The last day of the Half Term break. Tomorrow the next leg of the school at home project commences again. Does it sound bad that I’m not looking forward to it.🤓🤬😱🤯

The delights of Zoom meetings and lessons. The word Zoom has replaced Cauliflower has the one that makes my stomach churn the most. The mandate to use Microsoft Teams then trying to work out which teachers are not using it this week. The soul shattering tiredness which ensues from the daily 630am alarm call. Trying to get my head round chemical reactions, tectonic plate theory and trigonometry. Trying to help with French while being unable to stop helping in German. Trying to explain coding to so dine with dyslexia when I don’t see the point. Not being able to find the right coloured pens and stationery. Failing to get Hawklads homework to submit by the deadlines. Emailing teachers to remind them that Hawklad is still here and still a member of the class. At home but not having the time for housework. Constantly fighting the urge to drown in a swimming pool of extra strength coffee and gorge on every cookie within a 10 mile radius.

Yep not looking forward to that starting again.

But it will be done, I just might go a bit grouchy….

Let’s be honest

Could I argue that this was a Golden Eagle catching fish over a mountain lined lake. I could but others might have a different view. If we don’t listen then we often get the wrong answer….

I was listening to a member of the Government being interviewed about schools on the BBC. The interviewer listened politely to the answers agreeing with everything that was said. Never asking for the evidence or questioning the view. All very friendly and very smily. Then a scientist was interviewed with a differing view. The interview was very different. The scientist was constantly interrupted, never allowed to answer fully. Often basically accused of being biased. Part of the problem. A very hostile interview.

That’s the problem we are not allowed to have a balanced open discussion anymore. It’s very much you are with us or against us. It’s not just Covid, it’s everything. I heard a leading Government MP say that any Firm that doesn’t support Brexit fully would be penalised.

So where are we with schools. They largely remain shut until the 8th March. Next week our so called Leader will tell us the plan. There seems to be a media blitz telling parents that schools are perfectly safe. Children have to be in schools as no other options exist. Nothing to worry about. The only change needed is to get pupils to wear a mask in a few more shared areas but definitely not in classrooms. Parents will be issued with Covid test kits so they can test their family regularly. The evidence from Europe and here shows that schools don’t spread the pandemic at all. Children are getting infected only in households. Infection rates are falling. More people have been vaccinated. Doubting parents will be subjected to a Advertisement campaign to reassure them. Those still doubting will be warned about fines and penalties to if they fail to send their children back.

That’s one view….

There are other views.

  • Respect individual children views. Some will be keen to return others will not feel safe. It’s a personal judgement about risk.
  • People are being vaccinated but most only with one of the two required shots. This runs the risk of reduced effectiveness and virus resistant mutations.
  • The vaccine varies on how much protection it provides to individuals, how long it is before the protection starts to tail off and how effective it is at stopping people spreading the virus.
  • There are NO plans to vaccinate children. The Government believes they are a key way to develop herd immunity. A strategy which has little expert support.
  • Comparing UK schools with many of the European ones misses a key point. UK classrooms are much more overcrowded with less opportunities for social distancing than European ones.
  • Infection rates are falling but still are higher than under the first wave. The death rate is still daily well over 500 a day. So falling YES but no where near under control.
  • The number of virus mutations being detected are rising rapidly.
  • The virus is now spreading fastest amongst the young and under 18 age groups.
  • Even with a lockdown and with schools only accepting a small number of pupils (essential worker children), Public Health England are still reporting that about 100 schools a week are still encountering pandemic outbreaks.
  • Our Leader only a few weeks ago called schools completely safe and told parents to send their children into school. 8 hours later he was saying schools were Vectors for Transmission and had to be closed. Make your mind up….
  • Children are getting serious long term Covid. They are being hospitalised.
  • Children are being admitted to hospital with associated serious diseases which are linked to an initial mild Covid infection.
  • The quick self administered tests which are going to be used are not particularly accurate or reliable. Only really effective as a guide not a determinate.
  • Many scientists and experts are arguing for caution on school reopenings. For the foreseeable future they are arguing for investment in homeschooling to allow for more classroom space. This would also allow time for schools to implement change to permanently move away from overcrowded learning environments.

Different views but we are only supposed to hear one. Just maybe the best way going forward is to be open with what we know and what we don’t know. Let individual schools work with the local health services, parents and pupils. Develop local solutions that work the local circumstances. Give them the support to make long term changes. Provide an enhanced national home schooling resource pool. Then trust parents and children to make the right call for them. Surely that’s a better route out of this mess.

Forgetful

Do you get those moments when you realise that you have clearly lost the plot. I’ve been telling Hawklad that the school half term week off is the last week of February. It always is….

I couldn’t work out last why a few of the teachers kept talking about end of module lessons, need to get things finished this week, we start something new in a couple of weeks…. Still the obvious didn’t sink in. Not until one teacher set an ‘end of half term test’.

Ok the week off is this week. This is completely down to me. School emailed parents after Christmas with the correct dates. The school calendar is clear. Basically the muppet gauge is registering ‘off the scale’ currently with me. That might explain why I put my coffee cup into the tumble dryer with the towels. That might explain why I filled my bath with cold water. That might explain why I lost my mobile so I tried phoning it on the land line – kept getting the engaged sound and didn’t work out that I was repeatedly phoning the landline. Might explain why I couldn’t find the toothpaste and strangely found that it was in my hand all the time. Might explain why I put Deep Heat on a hand cut rather than Sudacrem.

Everyday I move further away from George Clooney and ever closer to Homer Simpson. That’s both in looks and thought.

Wish I could forget that bit.

Who do I listen to

Another day and another pompous government minister telling the kids what best for them. Not listening. Not accepting differences. Not accepting that some will be ready to jump back into life, others will not. Not accepting that his form of education is really about serving his needs and the economy. Not prepared to listen and work with what individual children and families need. Wanting schools to go backwards towards Victorian values. Totally against the notion of moving schools forward and turning them into wonderful places of learning and personal growth. To make them enjoyable and yes FUN. But what do we know, he clearly knows best. Just do what we are told.

So this middle aged pompous bloke will shut up and tell you exactly how Hawklad sees where he is. This is what he told me last night when I LISTENED to him.

  • I love to go back to school. But not because of the teaching. To meet up with my friends again.
  • Most of the teaching is so not me. Doesn’t suit me.
  • I hate being told what to learn and how to learn it. Getting no choice. Being told what to think and how to remember it
  • Hate always worrying about breaking the rules. Worrying about getting negatives.
  • Hate having to put my hand up in a lesson and ask for help. It’s so hard in front of all the other classmates admitting I can’t read something.
  • Being told it’s perfectly safe to go to school when I know I can catch covid. Being crammed in a class with someone who might have it and not know it. Having to share equipment without them being cleaned. Then being told that I won’t get the vaccine as I’m low risk. Reading about mutations that no one seems to understand. To me school is not safe at all. Just can’t go back for a long time. Until it’s really under control. Until I’ve been vaccinated with something that really works. Until I get some space in school.

That says it all to this middle aged pompous chap. Tells me where he is. That’s who I will listen to. Not some pompous government minister living his closeted life who doesn’t care and doesn’t listen.

Origami

Tracks. Can you guess the little visitor?

***********

Dad I’m not happy…”

What’s wrong?

School. Apparently they think that origami is a fun activity”

Well many would agree.

Not here they won’t. So when a teacher says ‘I have a fun activity for youI personally would not be then referring to origami. I am tempted to contact my lawyer on this.”

You might enjoy it.

Not happening. Two videos each 10 minutes long to follow. Making a bird and a dragon. I’d rather eat broccoli.”

Wow must be bad if broccoli is a better option. Why don’t you have a go and see what happens.

Well only if you do it as well. Parents should be made to share the torture.”

##### 30 minutes later#####

Well Dad did you enjoy that….”

No I didn’t Son. Broccoli is a better option.

Any idea what those two creations are supposed to be. Certainly not a bird or dragon. And we followed the instructions….”

No idea what they are. We might as well have spent 30 minutes randomly scrunching up some paper.

So the visitor….. it’s this one.

Comes and stands tight next to the front door and waits patiently for me to get my backside in gear. It’s a clever strategy. Always gets some food first. What a clever bird.