'Stick to the plan to avoid chaos', parent says about schools

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image captionSarah Douglas with her children Archie, Lottie, Charlie and Bella

Parents have said the government must stick by their plan to reopen schools to avoid "chaos".

Schools in England will reopen on 8 March as part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's plan to lift lockdown.

Mother-of-five Nura Aabe, from Bristol, said if the plan changed her children's mental wellbeing would be affected.

She said: "My son has autism, and anxiety is at a completely different level when things are uncertain."

Meanwhile, head teachers have said they need to "get on with their job" and schools need to reopen "without any gimmicks".

They are set to reopen to all pupils on the same day but the government plans to build in a few days' flexibility to allow measures like testing to be put in place.

Demand 'overwhelming'

PHD student Mrs Aabe said: "I need to know if their decision is final and clear because the uncertainty we've had before impacts on my children's mental health.

"My autistic son Zac needs his college to stay happy and supported and without it the demand in my household is overwhelming, so the prime minister's decision needs to be unchangeable otherwise families will have to face chaos."

image copyrightNura Aabe
image captionMrs Aabe (right) said her autistic son Zac (left) needs routine to cope

Sarah Douglas, from Bristol, who has been home-schooling her four children, said she felt "relieved" they would soon be returning to lessons.

"It'll be great for their mental wellbeing and great for them to be with their friends again," she said.

Her eldest son and daughter, Charlie and Bella, said they had felt "isolated" from their friends and were "thrilled" to find out they were going back.

image copyrightEdwina Ogu
image caption"My children need to learn in the school setting," Mrs Ogu said

Mother-of-four Edwina Ogu, from Bristol, said she trusted the government's additional testing strategy and vaccinations would keep everyone safe.

"I'm fine with the children going back to school because they are getting bored at home and me being a mum with four children, I wouldn't tell you it's been easy.

"If we protect ourselves and protect others we can let our kids go to school, so I welcome the news," she said.

Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees said he recognised the third lockdown had been difficult for people financially, emotionally and mentally, especially during the winter, but also recognised that reopening schools and allowing more social interaction would make some people anxious.

image copyrightRoyal Wootton Bassett Academy
image captionHead teacher Anita Ellis said she was "nervous" about having more students in school

Anita Ellis, head teacher at Royal Wootton Bassett Academy in Wiltshire, said she empathised with parents who were at the "end of their tether".

She said: "My seven-year-old daughter has gone to school throughout, but I can tell that she really misses and needs the normal social interaction back.

"At the school I work at we really do want them back, but I'm incredibly nervous to have more students in our already crowded school because we do have vulnerable members of staff and not all have been vaccinated."

image copyrightMike Welsh
image captionHead teacher Mike Welsh said schools must be trusted to "get on with the job" without government interference

Mike Welsh, head teacher of Goddard Park Primary in Swindon, welcomed the government's decision but said schools needed to be allowed to re-open "without any gimmicks".

"I want to open the school fully but teachers need to be allowed to just get on with their job you know, our children don't need to stay until five or anything like that, just get them back in school.

"I also don't want to have a revolving door where students have to go home a week after coming back to school if a teacher tests positive for Covid, so we need to vaccinate teachers urgently."

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