Reasons

There is something about this time of year. It just keeps on producing the most amazing mist covered skies. Almost as if the sky was an old watercolour art work.

We will ignore the absolutely sodden feet. Something about this time of year and wet socks as well….

The school term is well underway and finally a few subjects are providing some home materials for Hawklad. Certainly not the entire lesson but at least it’s something. One teacher even marked some work he had submitted and provided feedback. That’s a real start. But it all seems pretty disjointed and I get a sinking feeling – he is falling behind those in class. But at least it’s improving. I wonder if there is another reason for that.

Under the new Government Rules schools don’t notify parents if there are any in-class Covid cases. Lessons continue as normal without any additional precautions. Direct contacts with confirmed cases are NOT asked to isolate. It’s out of Headteachers hands now, external officials control the process. Those officials will not intervene until the number of cases escalate beyond thresholds set by the Government. So parents are kept in the dark and apparently should assume there is no news. Schools are completely safe.

Well a teacher accidentally let the cat out of the bag today with a stray email. The email talked about those unable to attend class due to having tested positive. In Hawklad’s class of 30 pupils, 6 are currently suffering with Covid. Those pupils sitting next to a confirmed case (that’s sat for hours, shoulder to shoulder with someone with Covid) are not traced. Mid last week all in the class had been given the all clear after the quick self testing process. A testing process which is not compulsory.

So I guess the reason for the improved home workload might just be that a sizeable proportion of the school are off…..

Amazon

Not The Amazon just a sunny Yorkshire evening. A chilly evening. Autumn is definitely here.

Amazon. Oh what a fun shopping experience. Ok the buying bit isn’t that bad now. Usually they have what I need and it arrives in one piece. All except vinyl that seems to have been sat on by an elephant. Occasionally you get the delights of tracking a next day delivery as it slowly wander in and out of the country. On its very own magical mystery tour. Sometimes the wrong item arrives. Sometimes it’s delivered but not here…… But it’s generally ok.

Returns are another matter. Talk about pulling what’s left of my hair out. So last night with some trepidation I tried the Amazon Paperless Return process. An email was sent with a random ink stain image which was apparently all I needed. So with that image on my phone, the elephant warped LP in hand I headed to the nearest drop off location. A petrol station 5 miles away. A really really helpful young till assistant decided I had the face of someone who can’t even work a toaster never mind an online system. I should have whispered that I have a degree in computing….. Never really got the chance as she quickly took over with a smile. She was probably bored out of her mind and this at least broke the monotony of the evening shift. Ominously she warned that the easy and seamless return system was a ‘pigging nightmare’. The all knowing ink stain image was scanned after about 10 minutes of increasingly comical arm movements. Then the paperless system needed to print off a paper label……. It jammed. Then jammed again. Kept jamming and eating labels. An increasing pile of useless labels took over the floor. 30 minutes later we abandoned as we had used up the last label. The next batch of labels wouldn’t apparently arrive until next Thursday.

So today I will return to the petrol station with a label which I have printed out and will have another go at using this paperless Amazon system…..

That’s progress for you.

New

If I keep my eyes open on the mad dog walk, I always discover something new…

So another school at home day. The pattern seems set. For each lesson something appears on the school system which can be accessed remotely. Maybe a one page document to read. Maybe a few random questions. Maybe a link to something on the web but with no signposts about why he is visiting the site. Maybe an unclear project. Whatever it is there are no instructions, no timescales, no indication of what is expected. We don’t even know if Hawklad is expected to return any work. No contact from any teacher.

So if he finishes within a few minutes what does Hawklad do for the remaining hour or so of the lesson. If he submits any work will it be even looked at.

Maybe the teachers are distracted by other issues but it does increasingly feel like school has given up on Hawklad.

They’re at it….

What on earth is going on the conservatory window. And yes the conservatory needs tidying up. Out of focus dinosaur toys have taken over.

So it’s the first full week back at school for families in our area. Already many children have taken the quick but problematic virus test. Our Government is really pushing them while other countries are deeply sceptical of the test we use. Even our own Doctor Groups have expressed concerns. Some parents are refusing to let their children take them. Some schools have run out of the test kits. But the tests are the only precaution left in our schools.

From the parent comments on our school’s forum, a number of children have tested positive and are waiting a full test. A number of parents are isolating due to contracting Covid. But the Government rules have changed. Schools are not allowed to track potential cases without the approval from the authorities. They are not allowed to notify parents of potential or confirmed cases. Parents will only be notified if the number of cases escalates beyond a set national threshold. It seems odd that if a child has head lice then other parents are immediately notified but no notification now with an infectious disease. It also seems bizarre that under the current rules a child who tests negative using the inaccurate quick tests must still attend class even if that child’s parents have Covid, and if the child’s siblings have Covid.

Not an ideal backdrop for Hawklad to be wrestling with going back to school or not. He is still struggling with crowds. Still struggling with OCD. Still struggling to touch objects. Still struggling to venture inside.

School have said that they will try to be flexible about his return but do they really get it . His health professionals recommended a number of changes to help but these have not been acted upon. We asked if he could be put into classes with at least a few friends to help his potential return. Most of his classes have now been announced and guess what. Where are his friends……NOT in his class. It’s as if they had tried to put him in the worst class groupings possible. Let’s hope that the last two subjects fair better. Classes are full, the year is over allocated and unless a pupil leaves then switches can’t happen apparently.

Yes they’re at it again…. And it’s not helping.

And then

Another sign of the approaching Autumn Term. Plenty of insects on the windows. Yes this one is superimposed on the big boy cats butt.

The day has dawned. In hours Hawklad is due back in the classroom. One email from school informing parents that school Covid safeguards have been relaxed apart from some testing. The school day will start with all children undertaking a Covid self test. Then the Year will gather for a school assembly in the main hall. After about 3 hours lessons will then commence.

No specific contact from school about Hawklad.

No discussions on tailoring a return.

No chance for Hawklad to do another pre school visit.

School haven’t even specifically asked if Hawklad is returning.

So what is Hawklad doing?

The thought of 3 hours of being in the small main hall with something like 120 other pupils without masks has really bothered him. Bothers me….. No specific plans have been agreed with school. Nothing in place to help with his potential return. Under those circumstances he can’t return. So I have informed school that he is working from home today.

It doesn’t help that it’s an anniversary……

Let’s see if school offer anything today. At least the timetable and class details will be published. Hawklad has said he will decide on Saturday. At present he feels that he can’t return. If that’s the case then it’s a question about is the a temporary hold or the permanent switch to homeschooling.

It’s such a mess.

Whitby

Maybe being inside amongst strangers is still a step too far for Hawklad but he keeps trying. A late call but we headed towards the North East Coast. To Whitby. A small town with so much history. A small town which provided one of the key settings for Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

These days it’s a busy tourist destination. Today was grey and cold, so hopefully not that busy.

Yes less busy but still too busy for Hawklad. He desperately tried to keep his distance. Often walking down the middle of the road to avoid strangers. His hoody pulled over almost to the bridge of his nose. He couldn’t stay long. It was too uncomfortable and unsettling. He resisted the urge to let me go inside to buy ice cream or the legendary Whitby Fish & Chips. We made it to see a few boats. A quick wander to the Pier. Then it was heading back to the safety and isolation of home.

What happens with school at the end of the week. Still to be determined. But to me there is only one viable road open.

Is it over

Is the pandemic over. Have I missed something.

Yesterday I took Hawklad for a drive through takeout at the local Taco Bells. The drive through was coned off. After much reassurance Hawklad let me go inside to buy him some food.

Well I was wearing a mask and keeping my distance……..

The only other person with a mask was the lad preparing the food. The girl taking the orders, the chap making drinks and the person on the till were maskless. Everyone inside at the tables were maskless. Even the customers who came in after me were maskless. I even had to ask the person behind me to move back as he was no more than a foot away from me. AND the looks I got. No comments this time as I think my eyes gave away the current mood level. What’s the phrase – if looks could kill……

So have I missed something. Is it over…..

Just had an email from school saying that masks are still recommended on school buses but they are not required in any part of the school including classrooms. All social distancing rules have ceased. This follows Government instructions to schools. The email also notified parents that from the opening of schools next week, classes will now not be sent home if there is a positive case in the class. A significant outbreak would have to occur for that to happen. That decision would now not be the schools to take, it was up to area officials. Further if positive cases occur in a household then the any pupils are expected to still attend school until they test positive. Parents will now not be automatically informed of any school or class outbreaks. They will not be informed of any close contact with confirmed cases. This will only occur when a threshold of infection is reached. The school is seeking clarification on these new rules but they will have to follow them as they are Government instructions.

So have I missed something. Is it over…..

ONE MORE THOUGHT….

The Government was asked in a Freedom of Information Request to reveal what its own expert advice said about its school mask removal policy. The Government has refused to release that advice or a summary of the expert opinion as it is ‘not in the public interest to release that information’. I wonder what it says…….

Responsibility 2

That’s a tree that’s seen some living. Too many storms and a couple of lightning strikes have permanently changed its shape. But it’s still standing. Standing on its own.

In the UK child mental health services have been cut to the bone. Rapidly escalating real need while resources are stretched to braking point. Children in need either do no get any support or minimal support has to be constantly fought for. Schools are forced to stick to the Government agenda with restricted budgets. Child Mental Health and Well-being is not seen as part of the school remit by the Government. Teachers are hamstrung with an inflexible curriculum with strict deadlines. Specialist Educational Services are just not available to most children who really need them.

In the UK families are basically on their own. If your child has an educational or mental health need then you can’t rely on help being there when you need it.

Government calls it’s ‘individual responsibility’.

So with 9 days left before Hawklad potentially returns to the classroom he is facing significant stress and anxiety. He has so many life defining challenges and social obstacles to overcome. Unpicking what can be done and assisting with those areas is a highly specialist area. A service which is currently unavailable to him. Any return to the classroom will require significant adjustments in school. It places significant requirements on teachers that they are not trained for and do not have the classroom time to handle. The school is unable to secure any specialist assistance – they are just not there. Apart from his muppet Dad, he is on his own. His Dad is out of his depth. Really out of his depth.

Individual Responsibility. What could possibly go wrong.

Responsibility 1

Luckily Hawklad has found his way on to the replacement health specialist list. He has an appointment in the future. Really lucky as a 5 day a week full time specialist has been replaced with a one day a week specialist who has to cover over services on the other 4 days. Cut backs….. This Government does not take child mental health and well-being seriously. So much unmet need. Children let down by their own Leaders.

But our leaders don’t care full stop. As millions of the poorest loose £20 a week in benefits I hope the Chancellor taking that decision to cut enjoys his newly built heated swimming pool, tennis courts and state of the art gym. As the Prime Minister lectures those losing the losing the money that they most learn to stand on their own feet as he sits in his new apartments paid for by a rich donor. Oh sorry no, he is apparently on holiday again……

Apparently it’s all about personal responsibility.

Twilight walk

Late evening dog walk. Normally a time of beauty, quiet and peace. A much needed feeling of solitude for Hawklad. But not this night. The sound of the farmer had at work as the light gives out. No sound of silence tonight.

Another day has started and the Government ‘schools are perfectly safe’ campaign is in full swing. Children are are very low risk of getting ill from COVID. Crossing the road is much more dangerous. So all children should return to school immediately and there is no need for any COVID mitigation strategies in the the classroom. Forget your masks and go for it. This even applies to Extremely Clinical Vulnerable children. A Government Health Agency has just wrote to over 55000 families to inform them that now their extremely clinical vulnerable child should not shield anymore. They are expected back at school. Previously they have been informed to fully isolate due to the health risks associated with COVID. Now it’s suddenly become safe. Reassuringly the Head of that Agency also claimed last year that the UK had a world leading COVID strategy. Also argued that effective track and trace of cases was not needed. Also claimed that Large Scale Mass Public Gatherings carried no risk at all (days before they were stopped on safety grounds). Argued that the UK would not suffer significant deaths (currently 132000). OK….

Covid is such a difficult area to manage. I accept that. But children are catching Covid. Are suffering from severe and long Covid. They are in intensive care. Too many have died. It’s time my Government was honest with us. We are averaging well over 30000 new cases per day. We have 26x more cases than this time last year. Most days sadly over 100 people die. Most other countries are vaccinating children. Most other countries are installing improved ventilation in classrooms. Most other countries are maintaining sensible precautions in schools. My Government has decided to drop all precautions. Let’s be clear the Government and it’s officials know this. They have an level of child illness, suffering and death which is acceptable to them. They will see that as manageable.

But then rather than trusting children and parents with making a decision on their families safety (which will be different for each family), they are forcing the issue. Forcing families into sending children back into school regardless of the individual circumstances. Threatening legal action. Sending Government Officials after families. Regardless of family health risk profiles. Regardless of any mental health concerns. The only view that matters is the Government’s.

Parent views only matter with this Government when they provide a convenient excuse for the friends of the PM to justify the few ignoring the rules while everyone else has to obey them. One rule for them, one rule for us.

And on top of that the Government is now saying that responsibility for controlling covid in schools is purely the responsibility of parents and teachers. It has nothing to do with the Government. I wonder why that is…

Hawklad will go back to school when he is ready. He knows best. I trust his judgement. It is his health and well-being. Sadly I don’t trust those in power who are supposed to be on his side. They don’t care.