Have UK schools abandoned clinically vulnerable families?
Bev suffers from Sarcoidosis, under-active thyroid and a B12 imbalance. Her 8-year-old son has recently had shingles. Bev is protecting him as a clinically vulnerable (CV) child because there’s a clear association between shingles and a weakened immune system. Bev received the UK Government’s letter telling her to shield at the pandemic’s start. Since then, the state has removed her clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) status, even though Covid-19 has become more severe and community transmission is out of control.
How has shielding affected your family?
This has been really difficult as a single parent with a school-aged son, and my elderly vulnerable parent has had to step in and help with the school run. I have to bear the added costs of ordering online, and many items cost more to order from shops on Deliveroo. In the beginning, it was also challenging to place an online order and get a delivery slot.
It’s also difficult being a single mum unable to work due to health. I can’t currently access my online banking. I am living hoping that I have enough money to cover my bills. I struggle with mobility, so I can’t get to the bank for any help. I’m also having to reapply for my personal independence payments. I am unable to do this, so I have to put myself at risk to get help filling the form out. None of my health issues have changed, but I still have to reapply.
How have you responded to the spread of Covid in schools?
My son has recently started a new school, but when Covid broke out, I kept him off school at his last school. He started his new school a few weeks before the summer break and returned after the summer. I have kept him off since he got shingles at the end of September. I will continue to keep him off. With 117,000 kids having long covid, I don’t think the schools are safe.
What impact has this had on your family?
It has been difficult, but I’m lucky because my son is a happy, healthy child. He just takes life one day at a time, and he is very aware and understanding of the situation.
How does your son feel about having to be removed from school?
He is coping really well, and hopefully, he’ll continue to be ok. He’s happy to be safe at home as he said he doesn’t feel safe at school. He previously had to spend time living with my mum because of the exhaustion and other huge impacts on my health due to Sarcoidosis. We are enjoying spending the time together.
Have you been forced to send your son to school during the pandemic?
Yes, but I’m going to continue to keep him safe at home. I am currently being threatened with legal action, and I could face up to a £2,500 fine or three months in prison. I don’t know how I will pay the fine due to relying on benefits, but I will find a way to pay it because I don’t put a price on my child’s health and welfare, unlike the government.
What changes would your family like to see in schools?
Start supporting families rather than adding unnecessary stress. We’re trying to keep our families safe. Vulnerable people are often made to suffer financially due to the system, and money should not be used as a form of control, especially when it comes to protecting our families.
How do you feel now that CV/CEV status has been removed?
The government have yet again let thousands of people down. Their guidance for the CV/CVE is to use our own common sense to stay safe and healthy. Families like ours are using our common sense by keeping our kids off school. So, we should not face legal action for following government guidelines.
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