Exam changes and Covid closures at schools are creating a stressful, rollercoaster ride to Christmas.
The news about the vaccine has come as the virus appears to be spreading in some areas, with schools seeming to be fairly badly affected – at least in our area. Two weeks ago daughter three’s school announced at the weekend that her year group would be isolating due to two cases. By Tuesday she was back in school because she had not come close to the affected people. By Wednesday morning, 20 minutes after dropping her, I got a call that another person had tested positive in her year group and she had definitely been within two metres of them. The whole year group was closed down. They were due to start their GCSE mocks the following week so the school changed the weeks around and said the mocks would start the week they all went back. So far so good.
Daughter three has been extremely worried about the mocks, particularly since the school ramped up the pressure and told them the marks might count if the GCSEs are cancelled [although the Government seems to be firmly against this – daughter two, who is facing A Levels, has written to the Department of Education to tell them what she thinks about the latest news]. Daughter three’s school said they would be holding a ceremony to award the best performers and show how seriously they were taking them, adding yet more pressure to an already pressurised situation, particularly for those whose confidence is at rock bottom after the last year.
Daughter three had panic attacks over the back to school assessments. Nevertheless, I had managed to talk her around to just taking each exam as it came and ignoring the hype. Her bereavement counsellor said much the same thing, but, of course, she listened to her. “She’s a professional, mum,” she noted. If she could get the exams out of the way before the holidays she would be okay, she said. She anticipates that what would have been her sister’s 21st birthday and Christmas will be hard enough.
The following week daughter two’s best friend tested positive and daughter two was sent home. A few days later she developed continuous headaches so I rang for a test. As she didn’t have the three main symptoms, I rang 119. I explained the situation and that she might have a temperature [our thermometer has gone missing]. She was sent a home test. By Sunday she had tested positive – much to my surprise as I thought we all had the virus earlier in the year. I had been having continuous headaches and temperature too so I headed out to get tested. It was foggy and dark and it felt a bit like being in a sci-fi movie with people in masks holding up signs telling you to keep your windows closed and pincer things coming in through the car window to take the test. I tested negative.
Later in the week daughter three started having headaches and developed a rash down her body. I rang 119. They wouldn’t let me book a test for her as she hasn’t got the classic three symptoms even though her sister is positive and the test and trace woman had told me that headaches and rashes are increasingly being seen as important symptoms. 119 suggested I ring the GP. Later that day we got a text saying we were in a pilot and everyone in our house should be tested regardless of symptoms. The GP rang back and said he was 90% sure daughter three had Covid so we should get a test. I rang 119. They said the pilot wasn’t on their system and they couldn’t allow a test without the classic three symptoms, whatever the GP said. We had to wait until the pilot was on the system.
Meanwhile, daughter three was, of course, missing the mocks. Her teacher said she could sit the rest of the mocks when she went back and the ones that she had missed in the new year. Daughter three just sat on her bed and cried. “I can’t do this,” she said. I contacted the school and they have allowed her to sit the exams at home.
In the meantime, daughter two’s year group has closed down till mid-December and only son’s school is closing down a couple of year groups.
We are now waiting for test results for only son and daughter three. I am back to homeschooling only son [I’d almost forgotten the joys of teaching fractions], invigilating daughter three’s exams and trying to help daughter two with her extended English essay while working. Parents are used to keeping going when everything around them is going haywire, but I don’t think we ever envisaged this level of haywire. And our family is very aware that we are lucky. We’ve got jobs, food, a house and, so far, our health. Nevertheless, although the vaccine stuff sounds positive, it also sounds fairly distant when you are trying to get through each and every day and the weekends can’t come quickly enough.