Preston parents have differing opinions on schools being open

Kaiden Wilson writing a diary entry for his schoolwork
Kaiden Wilson writing a diary entry for his schoolwork

Parents across Lancashire have mixed views on schools remaining open during the second lockdown.

Back on November 5, the country was placed into a second lockdown due to a rise in positive cases of COVID-19.

Non-essential shops, cafes, bars and restaurants had to close; however, schools, colleges and universities were told to remain open.

Many parents have mixed opinions on whether schools should be open due to the safety and wellbeing of their children.

Charlotte and Arthur Pemberton
Charlotte, 36, and Arthur, 8, Pemberton – Image credit to Charlotte Pemberton

Charlotte Pemberton, a parent from Preston, is worried about schools remaining open because of the health and safety concerns that high-risk children and families are faced with daily.

She said: “I don’t feel that children are safe in school, I don’t feel teachers are safe in school. 

“You just have to look at the data and you can see that the schools, colleges and universities are a breeding ground for COVID-19.”

Charlotte is mainly concerned as she believes that schools are not handling isolation in the correct way.

The mother of two, said: “When Georgina had to self-isolate, Arthur who is in year three, didn’t have to isolate. He still had to go to school. 

“My children are coming home to the same place and I can’t separate them at home and not let them interact.

“I was gobsmacked, I could not believe that Georgina had to isolate but Arthur didn’t. It just seems completely and totally backwards.” 

On the other hand, some parents believe that schools should remain open because their child’s education would be severely impacted if schools were closed.

Joe and Leon Hayhurst
Joe, 44, and Leon, 8, Hayhurst – Credit image to Joe Hayhurst

Joe Hayhurst, a parent from Penwortham in Preston, said he believes it is better for children to be in school rather than at home.

He said: “I absolutely believe that kids are better off being educated in school.

“Getting taught correctly and being with other children for their own mental health and their educational prospects going forward.” 

The father of one said he is willing to take a risk by letting his son go to school.

Joe said: “I know there is a higher chance of the virus transmitting in schools, but for me personally, my number one priority is my son and his education. 

“I know he is unlikely to get ill from COVID and therefore I am willing to take the risk.”

Charlotte Pemberton believes schools should only be open for vulnerable children:

A campaign group, Parents United Against Unsafe Schools, are sharing statistics and stories on Twitter using the #CloseTheSchoolsNow.

The group consists of parents, who do not agree with the government’s decisions and want a strategy for schools that is sensible, safe and sustainable.

They believe that as parents they should have a choice on the best way to protect their families whilst educating their children.

Even though campaigners’ disagree, the Government decided to keep schools open, as they express within their statements, that schools are the best place for children to be.

Lancashire County Councillor and Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Schools, Phillippa Williamson, said: “We’re doing everything we can to keep our children and young people safe and happy at school, because we know how important it is for their learning, wellbeing and development.

“I know that this has been a challenging period for everyone, with families being impacted by the coronavirus situation in many ways.

“However, the Government is very clear that all children, in all year groups, are expected to attend school, and it is our firm intention to achieve this, as long as it is safe to do so.”

The Office for National Statistics COVID-19 Infection Survey, shows that in the most recent week (4 Dec), the percentage of people testing positive has decreased in all age groups.

However, virus rates remain highest in secondary school-aged children.

As the country goes back into tier systems, schools remain open to pupils and members of staff. 

Trisha King, a teacher at Essa Academy High School, in Bolton, said schools can enforce the safety of students but cannot control what safety measures children take when they leave the school gates.

Trisha has concerns as pupils are having to isolate every week due to the spread of the virus.

The 55-year-old said: “I can see both sides of the argument because parents can’t go to work if they’ve got kids at home, but we’ve not had a full school attendance since September, and I think it’s detrimental to everybody.

“In my opinion, I think we should have an extended Christmas holiday to make sure that everyone is clear of the virus when they come back.”

There has been over 60,000 deaths in the UK related to COVID-19 and life continues to change for families and children.

If you would like more advice on COVID-19 and current restrictions, visit the GOV website, here.