Writing365 #20 – new term of unfairness

Ritu’s reflection on teaching and the start of the new school year with the viral proliferation of ‘snuffles’ and germ-ridden children in the classroom was interesting to read.

Of course, a teacher writing on her public blog can’t stand up for children and parents in writing about this issue, or speak against policy impacting children’s health and rights.

As a parent of school-age children, now thankfully over a few years since, it was a constant problem that sick children are expected to attend school regardless. Nowadays, parents can be fined or even face imprisonment for their child having excess absence beyond a very small pre-determined amount. The enjoyment of parenting was completely destroyed at times for the nonsense that was sometimes delivered in the name of ‘education’. I couldn’t wait for my kids to grow up to escape the hell of school at some points. 

The medical condition I was diagnosed with as a teenager (and never fully recovered from) affects a lot of teachers. It’s sometimes called ‘Post-Viral Fatigue Syndrome (P.V.F.S.) and sometimes otherwise known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.) and these days the popular dustbin diagnosis of ‘Chronic Fatigue Syndrome’ (C.F.S.). None of them are necessarily the exact same medical condition. I’ve had illness with M.E. and P.V.F.S. throughout adulthood as distinctly different illness. I also at one point had chronic fatigue caused by carbon-monoxide related illness and although there are some similarities, there is also distinct difference.

There are also the general conditions of ‘chronic fatigue’ and ‘post-viral fatigue’ from which most people do actually recover but are neither M.E. nor P.V.F.S. Children with such long-term illnesses are often denied the serious implications of their medical conditions (some have died of heart failure during school attendance). You cannot expect to be able to see that the child is visibly ill much of the time, although they very often are.

One of the problems is that what may be ‘just a cold’ for one person or child, not impacting their ability to function at reasonable level, can be more severe illness in another individual. Forcing attendance and encouraging the spread of viruses is very short-sighted, as is not allowing all children the rest they need to recover before returning to school.

My daughter unfortunately had a severe throat infection at the worst time ever for her school – during the month of May when SATs were taking place (SAT =Standardised Assessment Testing, I think). It took three courses of antibiotics before her throat infection healed. She was incredibly unwell and needed extra time to recover better before she returned to school. She missed her tests.

This was not popular and I was expected to still take her into school. I refused – she had a bacterial infection that might be very easily spread. Her tests could either wait until she returned, or could be regarded as completely unnecessary for an obviously capable child whom her teacher knew very well.

When my son was small, amongst an earlier generation of primary school children, his school had to issue letters to parents repeatedly reminding them please not to bring children to school with obvious signs of transmittable illness. Some parents apparently were overly keen that their child didn’t miss school – or didn’t want the bother of them being at home.

The issue doesn’t just affect the children and teachers in school, it is brought home to families where some members may have immune-deficiencies. My own health was continually affected by the proliferation of viruses in school and brought home – even if my daughter herself did not seem to ‘catch’ it.

Although I have no experience of how things are now, nor in all schools, in classrooms, other public places such as waiting rooms and even on the bus, the levels of heating seem excessive and also encourages the spread of germs.

Photo taken in negative effect during Photo101, June2015)
Photo taken in negative effect during Photo101, June2015)

In my daughter’s school the sanitation provision was incredibly poor, there was often no soap for hand-washing and upon complaining you might be told ‘most children don’t wash their hands anyway.”

This is a brief reflection on an issue that seems unfair, written in response to the prompt for today in the 365 days of writing e-book downloadable from the Daily Post (dailypost.wordpress.com)


5 thoughts on “Writing365 #20 – new term of unfairness

  1. I enjoyed your take… I suffered from PVFS as a university student, and it took my immune system years to recover…
    I think as a teacher, you know what I feel from my post, but as a mother of school aged children, I also understand that sometimes, it’s not just a cold, and you have to keep a child off. We make sure when there is any DV bug going round, that children are kept off for a minimum of 48 hours to reduce the spreading.
    But as you say, the new culture of fining parents scares some into sending their children in, even when they aren’t well. They don’t necessarily understand the system, but just know days off = fines. Obviously this isn’t the case in real instances of illness, as long as school is informed.
    But one child being sent in unwell, can start a huge wave of illness across a year group, and then on to their families, as you say…
    Oh it’s such a touchy subject!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hallo 🙂 Thank you for your very thoughtful reply and also for the reblog. You’re right of course, it is a very touchy subject. I understand it’s very difficult for teachers – more so for those with their own children, usually attending a different school so having double (or more) exposure to such illnesses and with difficulties of childcare perhaps when their own children are ill.. I’m glad you didn’t mind my linking to your post & very much appreciate your response and of course your writing on the subject at your post. It seemed a perfect topic at this time of year to tackle for the unfairness prompt. My apologies for not commenting on your post to let you know at the time of posting earlier today. Best wishes and I hope you are feeling better and able to avoid the dreaded lurgies 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hey, no worries!!!
        I was flagging at the end of the week… Thought I’d be full blown I’ll by now, but I seem to,have fought it, for now!!! Fingers crossed I stay relatively healthy now!!! 😊

        Liked by 1 person

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