You are currently browsing the daily archive for July 2, 2021.

On Thursday, July 1, news emerged that some British schoolchildren are creating false positives on their lateral flow tests in order to avoid school.

i News reported that videos have been circulating on TikTok since April, causing disruption in certain schools:

Yes. I thought they were tested in school. It comes as a surprise to find out they can self-test at home.

The problem is that other students in the same school bubble must also self isolate:

The videos are still on TikTok:

Whole bubbles and whole classes have been broken up around the country this year. Pupils and students must self-isolate for ten days.

In another i News article, one father expressed his frustration. Matthew is not his real name (emphases mine below):

Matthew*, a parent in the Greater Manchester area, was dismayed when his 14-year old son was sent home from school earlier this week after a friend faked a positive test reading after following videos she’d come across on TikTok.

“We were told our child has been in close contact with someone who’s had a positive result, a girl who’s one of his close friends. He said that she’d faked it and that she’d seen it on TikTok, that there were loads of videos on how to fake it,” he told i.

As she wanted to fake the result as an easy way to stay off school, it meant around 10 of their close friends were all told to stay at home. I’d say around half of them don’t care, they’ll get to stay in bed all day.

“You are going to get kids who can exploit this. In the general scheme of things, their whole education has been fairly screwed up, so it’s annoying when it’s intentional and one person can have such a big effect on their immediate friends.”

Matthew said he had asked the girl to explain to her mother that the test wasn’t legitimate and to do a PCR test to confirm she didn’t have the virus after a second lateral flow test conducted in front of a teacher returned a negative result

While Matthew’s son is supposed to be off school until 8 July, it’s not currently clear when he’ll be able to return to school.

“Her mum has agreed to ring the school and lie and said she’d had a negative PCR test, but we’re not sure when my son will be able to go back,” he said.

“We know that he’s off because of this person, but because of data protection, we can’t prove it. There’s a chance it could be someone else who’s genuinely positive, but it’s all very murky.

“For my son, this is an inconvenience because if he’s told to stay inside for 10 days, we’ll make him stay inside for 10 days, other parents maybe aren’t as bothered. He’s the one that’s been pushing for her to come clean, which has been controversial because some of the other friends are just happy to have the 10 days of extra holiday.”

‘Lost children of lockdown’

On Sunday, June 27, the Mail reported that nearly 100,000 children have dropped out of full-time education since lockdown began last year:

Analysis of official figures by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has identified 93,514 pupils who were mostly absent between September and December – more than the capacity of Wembley stadium.

The figure for those off school more often than they were present has rocketed by more than 50 per cent on the previous year, with a particularly ‘alarming’ rise in primary schools, as the chaos caused by Covid made it easy for vulnerable youngsters to slip through the net.

It is feared many will end up being expelled or simply drop out of education altogether after the disruption of the past year, putting them at risk of being drawn into a life of crime

CSJ chief executive Andy Cook said: ‘When a child disappears from our school system, their future often disappears with them …

These are the lost children of lockdown. Charities working with these children are telling us there’s now a real risk of children being picked up by street gangs.’

These figures are on top of those missing class because someone in their bubble tested positive:

These absences were additional to the 33 million days lost because of Covid, which saw children either fall ill or forced to stay at home because a classmate tested positive. Bradford, Knowsley in Merseyside and Newcastle upon Tyne had the highest absence rates.

It is unlikely that parents of the ‘lost children of lockdown’ will care about advice from the Department for Education:

The Department for Education said it had acted swiftly to help minimise the impact of the pandemic on pupils’ education and provided extensive support for schools, colleges and early years settings.

Its guidance makes clear that parents have a legal duty to ensure children of compulsory school age attend school regularly, but schools should authorise absences due to illness, related to both physical and mental health.

It’s time to bring back truant officers rather than hire Covid marshals.

Conservative MPs have been vexed over this situation, and Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education, has been a milquetoast about depriving so many children of their education.

MPs did not know about the TikTok videos at the time of the debate in the House of Commons on Wednesday, June 30.

Williamson’s responses, such as the following, are unhelpful:

… more than 50 million tests have already been conducted across schools and colleges. We are very much aware that testing has been an important part of getting schools reopened, and we continue to work with colleagues in the Department for Health and Social Care and in track and trace to ensure that testing is available to all pupils and their families …

I do not want to pre-empt the decision across Government on the next stage, but our direction is very clear about lifting the restrictions and ensuring that children are not in a situation where they have to bubble. That is very much part of the course of the road map, and of course we would very much expect that our children would not be facing that in September

On July 2, the Mail had an article about Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government plan on bubbles, which might not be lifted before schools close for the summer on July 19:

Mr Johnson is under pressure after it was revealed that 375,000 children had been sent home because a member of their ‘bubble’ had tested positive for Covid.

They have to isolate for ten days if another pupil in their group gets the virus. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has suggested that school bubbles will end when classes return after the summer holidays in September.

He has also indicated that the changes could happen when the next stage of easing restrictions takes place on July 19.

But this is the date that many schools are due to break up for summer, making it a meaningless promise in practice.

Conservative MPs are up in arms:

Senior Tories told the Telegraph today that the PM’s remarks had fallen ‘on stony ground’

The former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson joined the clamour for a swifter release from the bubbles today … 

Tim Loughton, a Tory MP and former children’s minister, told the Telegraph: ‘Common sense has been thrown out the window, they just need to get rid of all these bubbles asap.

The whole Department for Education operation has lacked a sense of urgency and the children have been the collateral damage.’

Former party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith is among 48 MPs to have signed a letter to the Prime Minister warning that the current policy is ‘disproportionate’ and ‘unsustainable’.

They said it was essential that schools ‘go back to normal’ when lockdown is lifted, even if it is ‘just for the last few days of term’.

‘This will send an important signal ahead of the autumn that the route to freedom is a ”one-way road”,’ the letter said.

It added that pupils have suffered ‘unnecessary and significant disruptions’ in order to keep the rest of the country safe.

‘They have lost physical fitness, suffered mental health damage, and experienced catastrophic learning loss,’ it said.

Other signatories include former cabinet minister Esther McVey and Commons education committee chairman Robert Halfon.

I could see this happening last year. Education ministers said that the most vulnerable would be able to continue to go to school with children of necessary workers. Who would make vulnerable children attend? Certainly not their parents, in most cases.

How the UK will recover from this disaster is anyone’s guess at the moment.

 

 

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