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‘I don’t want my daughter to be a guinea pig’: Islington parents pull kids out schools due to coronavirus fears

PUBLISHED: 16:36 17 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:11 17 March 2020

Stock image of a woman wearing a face mask. Picture: Dannt Lawson/ PA

Stock image of a woman wearing a face mask. Picture: Dannt Lawson/ PA

PA Wire/PA Images

Islington parents are pulling their kids out of school for fear they’ll catch coronavirus (Covid-19) or transmit it to a vulnerable relative.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson says schools will remain open for now but the government will close them if its chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, advises.

As of 9am yesterday there were 1,543 cases of coronavirus in the UK - 11 of which were in Islington – and 55 people had died. But an extra 407 people in the UK have since tested positive, bringing the total to 1,950.

The National Education Union today called on Mr Williamson to “close schools, at least for some time, in some areas”. And more than 650,000 people have signed a petition calling on the government to close schools and colleges while the pandemic is going on.

One woman, who’s six-year-old daughter goes to Laycock Primary School, has decided to home school her child after two of her teachers went into self-isolation last week.

She told the Gazette: “I took the decision to take my daughter of school today because my parents [aged 62 and 68] are here. It’s unbelievable they are not testing people who have been in schools. I’m Italian, a lot of people in my own town have already died. I don’t want my daughter to be a guinea pig.”

Roxy Morris, 29, isn’t sending her son to Drayton Park Primary School this week in line with government guidance because he has underlying health conditions which make him more vulnerable to coronavirus.

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She said: “My son’s six and has asthma and used to be hospitalized monthly at once stage and also have allergies.

“Also you have to think of kids coming home who live with parents with auto immune issues or disabilities.

“If kids live with grandparents it could become deadly for them.”

Nicky Campbell’s son and daughter are off from Highbury Girls School and City and Islington College, respectively, this week because their father has an underlying health condition. Nicky said: “We are in the centre of London, we have got 1,000 to 1,500 kids in our schools – it will infect everybody. They need to go on Easter holidays soon, why not bring it forward?”

PM Boris Johnson yesterday said: “We think at the moment on balance it’s much better if we can keep schools open for all sorts of reasons, but I appreciate this is something we need to keep under review.”

Islington’s education chief Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz said: “The council is working extremely closely with schools to make sure they are getting all of the most relevant national public health information to help them in their response to the coronavirus. “We are advising our schools to follow government guidance, which is currently that children and school staff should stay at home if they are unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, or if someone in the household is symptomatic. Otherwise they should attend school as normal. The government are not currently advising school closure.

“We know that this is a worrying time for parents, but we will continue to make sure that schools are kept informed with the most up to date information from public health. “It’s important to remember that we must all pull together as a community at the moment, and do what we can to look after our friends and neighbours.”

Staff or pupils with particular underlying health conditions or who are pregnant should also stay at home and follow the latest national guidance on social distancing.

Anyone with symptoms of Covid-19 should stay at home for 7 days, or longer if symptoms persist. If you develop symptoms and live in a household with other people, everyone in the household should stay at home for 14 days, to avoid spreading the infection outside the home.


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