Parents raise questions over May 11 return to school

Unique situation: Hunter, Theodore, Damien and Jenn Clark, who said their family was using art to cope while staying home. Picture: Marina Neil
Unique situation: Hunter, Theodore, Damien and Jenn Clark, who said their family was using art to cope while staying home. Picture: Marina Neil

JENN Clark believes it's near impossible her sons will be able to return to school and preschool on May 11.

"I'm going to play it by ear but it's probably not going to work for us," Mrs Clark said.

"I would not feel safe sending them back out until it felt safe and until the risk was much lower.

"I know that it [COVID 19] is around and I know it's close to where we are."

This is the fourth week that Mrs Clark has kept Hunter, 8, and Theodore, 4, home.

Mrs Clark is considered high risk because of her health conditions, which include having a bicuspid aortic valve, an aneurysm and a rare disorder called pyoderma gangrenosum.

On top of this, the family was told on March 24 that Hunter has an arachnoid cyst the size of a golf ball on his brain.

They are waiting to find out when he will go into surgery, but Mr Clark may have to take Hunter for the operation and the pair then spend 14 days in isolation in the family's caravan.

"I know our situation is completely different to everyone else's out there and that's the thing, everyone is in their own individual situation," she said.

"But I don't think it will be possible for us to return on May 11.

"We always err on the side of caution - we have to. If I'm the mum known as overreacting, but my family is safe and still here to tell the story, that's a win for me. You just have to keep on keeping on."

Mrs Clark said the first week of remote learning when there was a more broad focus "was really good", but things became difficult when Hunter had to move to a more structured program.

"He has autism and ADHD so needs a lot of help," she said.

"We couldn't do it all because it was too stressful.

"My four year old then missed out - the work needed to be done in a certain timeframe so Hunter won out."

Mrs Clark said she'd explained her family's situation to Hunter's school, Rathmines Public, and staff had been "amazing".

"The school has been very understanding but I feel pressure on myself to get it all done, even though I know he does not get it all done at school," she said.

"They are going to tailor it so it won't be as overwhelming for us, so they've been very positive and helpful."

Still attending: Ruby Lorrie misses her friends.

Still attending: Ruby Lorrie misses her friends.

Mum-of-four Rebecca Lorrie said she wanted more information about whether the return would be staggered and social distancing measures before making a decision.

She and her husband are required to leave home for work.

Their two teenagers, both in year 10, are learning from home, but their two primary schoolers were still at school last week.

"The safest place for them has been at school, but there's only been about 15 students there," Ms Lorrie said.

"If they're going back to 30 kids per classroom, I'm not sure whether that's really safe.

"Although in four weeks time who knows, the position could be completely different."

She said there was a lot of uncertainty. "They were saying schools are safe, but keep them home if you can - that's a conflicting message.

"They're saying kids aren't as affected, but that's part of the issue - they could be not exhibiting symptoms but pass it on."

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This story Parents raise questions over May 11 return to school first appeared on The Canberra Times.