Navigating coronavirus as a family, especially when you have young children, can be very difficult.
Whether a child has contracted the virus or not, if their parents or siblings do and are forced to isolate as a result, school drop-off and pick-up becomes a logistical nightmare. However, this situation is leaving children with unauthorised absences on their record, even where parents explain the situation to teachers.
One woman, a mother of four who faced three of her children getting Covid, was unable to take her fourth to school despite him testing negative. But that left him with an unauthorised absence, which the mum complained about.
The mum, who wished to stay anonymous, told HuffPost UK: “I have no issue with the school and how they have handled the situation, they’ve been brilliant. I have an issue with the guidance that the government are giving schools.
“I know that schools can make their own decisions, most are and are making good ones, but the guidance from our government should focus on keeping people safe. The current guidance doesn’t and that makes me pretty angry.”
Other parents have reported similar experiences and frustrations.
Martin Wright, 38, a dad from Shropshire, was also left confused when he explained his situation to the school.
“My youngest who is eight got an unauthorised absence because we kept her off school yesterday,” he said. “Myself, my wife and my eldest daughter all had positive PCR tests on the weekend. We kept her off because she had mentioned a sore throat, although she had a negative PCR.
“She has now had a positive lateral flow test (last night) It makes me feel uneasy that had we followed the rules – which says you should arrange for someone else to take the kid/s to school – she would’ve gone to school and potentially had Covid.
“We didn’t follow the school’s rules, and got penalised with an unauthorised absence. I think it’s unfair – the rules don’t make a lot of sense. For example we couldn’t get her to school safely, being in isolation ourselves. The rules need to take into account the situation at home, and consider the risk to the other students and staff.”
HuffPost UK reached out to the Department of Education for some guidance on the matter.
A spokesperson said: “Parents who are isolating should make alternative arrangements wherever possible to ensure that their child can continue to attend school. If a child cannot attend school because they are required to isolate, schools should provide them with remote education so they can continue to be taught.
“In exceptional circumstances school leaders have discretion to authorise absence.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.