Do you think the rules need revising?
'You should only take a place if you really need to'
First published on Tuesday 26 January 2021 Last modified on Tuesday 26 January 2021Lucy Dixon Social media editor With schools closed to most children for the latest national lockdown, parents are debating who should be eligible for a key worker place. And it seems they're VERY conflicted.
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How to talk to your child about coronavirus It's safe to say that the majority of parents hearts' sank when Boris Johnson announced in January that schools would be closing for another national lockdown.Worries about managing homeschooling alongside working, our kids' mental wellbeing, and the effect lockdown is having on their education, are all very real right now. headtopics.com
Schools are not completely closed, of course, as they remain open for vulnerable children and the kids of key workers and – as we reported earlier this month – demand for key worker spaces is at an all-time high.Experts are concerned that a large number of children still attending school – thanks to the broad definition of 'key worker' – will undermine the effectiveness of lockdown, and parents have been urged to only use the places if they really need them.
So who should be using the key worker places? At the moment, only one parent needs to be a key worker to quality, does that need to be changed? Should key workers who can work from home be given school spaces? Are parents stretching the rules to secure a school place?
These are the questions being hotly debated right now across social media and on the Netmums forum. Here's what you're saying:Does the definition of key worker need revising?Many parents on this chat thread think that the definition of key worker needs looking at again, to reduce the amount of children eligible to attend face-to-face lessons.
One mum, Gillian C(54), whose husband works for a bank and qualifies as a key worker has questioned the criteria, saying 'he has been perfectly capable of working from home while our kids have been in home school, so we have never taken up the “entitlement” to send them into school. The parameters of “key workers” must be fairly wide.' headtopics.com
Should both parents have to be key workers to get a school place?Some parents think that BOTH mum and dad should be key workers for the kids to attend school.Calla C said that it's not fair for key workers' 'children and their families to have a higher chance of catching it than absolutely necessary, or on the school staff and their families, or on the rest of us.
'The whole point of shutting schools is to stop the virus spreading and to save the NHS. If all the parents (as of course not all families have 2 parents in the household) work full-time as key workers, then fine. But in many cases, the child has at least one parent who doesn't work FT as a key worker outside the home, so they don't need to send their child in FT.
'When medics are totally exhausted, and ambulances are piling up outside hospitals, it's not petty to say you should only take a place if you really need to.'What effect is the demand for school places having on NHS staff?The impact on the NHS was also discussed by Hazel K(46), who works as a frontline healthcare worker in a hospital and has been unable to work because of a COVID outbreak at her child's school.
She says, 'I'm in the situation now of being one of only a few highly trained and very experienced staff in my particular profession in intensive care at my hospital and stuck at home because my daughter's key worker bubble has a positive covid case in it. The unit is being looked after by more junior staff this week and I am supporting from home. headtopics.com
'The impact of more people sending their children to school is perhaps people who are genuinely needed to fight the pandemic and save lives, unable to go to work due to self isolation, which is putting huge pressure on the staff left to run the service, when we are stretched beyond all imagination already.'
Can you blame parents for using places if they're available?There is also plenty of empathy for stressed parents on the thread, including from Donna B(844), who says although she isn't eligible for a school place, she understands why parents are using them if they can.
'We all know how hard it is to do the school work AND work from home. So I do not begrudge anyone a school place if they feel they need it.'Mum and key worker Chloe G(156) disagrees, saying spaces should NOT be used by key workers who can work from home. She says:
'I think it’s really selfish of people to send their child in to be able to concentrate better WFH.'Need help explaining the Covid-19 pandemic to your children? Coronavirus: A Book for Children about Covid-19 helps explain what coronavirus is and how it affects both health and family life. See more details here at Amazon.
To join in the debate, visit the Netmums chat thread below....Related contentWhat needs to happen for schools to reopenCHAT: are you a key worker?Health warning for homeschooling kids Read more: Netmums »
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