Ausnew Home Care | Parents of immunocompromised children share their

Parents of immunocompromised children share their COVID fears as schools return

disability Disability Employment Services disability law disability stereotypes intellectual disability Living With a Disability NDIS NDIS Aged Care Approved no ‘dis’ in disability. Seeing the ability in disability umbrella of disability

For Paula Marshall, the upcoming return to school-based learning for students in NSW has become a stress on her family.

Her youngest son Brendan will start year 12 in Nowra on the NSW south coast this year.

But the family is worried this could put Ms Marshall's older son Luke's health at risk.

Ms Marshall said Luke who is 21 has autism and is non-verbal, experiences anxiety and has a severe developmental delay.

She said for her family, a COVID-19 infection for Luke could bring many complex challenges.

"It is not just getting the virus, it is what comes with that," she explained.

"Because of his disability he gets the anxiety and he lashes out.

"I couldn't take him into a hospital and say 'OK see you later, you look after him, he has COVID, I haven't."

Ms Marshall said she worried about not being allowed to visit her adult son in hospital if he did become ill with COVID-19 but was also worried about what would happen if she and her husband became unwell.

"If something happens and we get very sick and end up in hospital, who is going to look after our disabled son?" she asked.

"We can't get carers in because they won't come into the house if we have COVID.

Family worries about managing COVID-19 school risk

For the past two years, the Marshall family has managed their COVID-19 risk, even outside of lockdowns, by getting vaccinated and "basically becoming hermits".

Now they are worried about their younger son unknowingly bringing the virus home from school.

In NSW, students and teachers will be required to take two rapid antigen tests each week when they do return to class, masks will be mandatory for students in year 3 and above, air purifiers will be used and there will be limited visitors allowed to school grounds.

Ms Marshall said she hoped regular rapid testing reduced outbreaks of the virus but she wished students with compromised health, or with vulnerable family members, had been given the option to continue online learning while case numbers remain so high in NSW.

In a statement, the NSW Education Department said it had worked closely with NSW Health to establish COVID guidelines for schools this year.

"Regular attendance at school for all students is essential to learning and wellbeing," the department said.

"These students can be supported to learn from home provided a valid medical certificate is supplied."

In Victoria, some parents are still unsure about classroom learning

In Phillip Island, south east of Melbourne, Nick D'Arcy, is worried about his six-year-old daughter Matilda returning to classes because of her history of respiratory problems.

"Probably for the first two years of her life we spent in-and-out of the children's hospital respiratory unit," he said.

Mr D'Arcy said while things had improved, Matilda still has what he described as "an old man's smoker cough."

He said he and his partner were unsure what would be best for their daughter's schooling.

"My partner spoke about maybe going part-time, maybe she'll look after her, maybe we'll roll with it," he said.

A young girl in a hat and a surgical mask
Matilda has suffered from respiratory problems since birth.(Supplied)

Mr D'Arcy said he and his partner had spent $500 ordering rapid antigen tests from multiple sources, in the hope some would arrive, and had purchased N95 masks to try and protect their family and daughter.

But he said he was still confused about some of the school-return details, like what would happen if there was a case of COVID in his daughter's class.

For now he said he remained "undecided" about what to do about Matilda's schooling.

The Victorian Education Department said in a statement it understood some parents were nervous and it encouraged parents to talk to their doctor if they were worried.

"We know children learn and develop better in the classroom," a spokesperson said.

"All students are expected to attend school unless they have a valid medical exemption from their doctor.

Children's doctor urges calm

The Melbourne Children's Hospital Chief of Medicine, Tom Connell, said he understood the concern many parents had about their children returning to classes but it was important to look at the data we have on COVID-19 and children.

"In the overwhelming majority of cases, COVID-19 is relatively mild condition for children, thankfully," he said.

Dr Connell said some conditions do increase the chance of a child needing hospital care.

"These really have been focused on conditions such as obesity, severe neuro disability, chronic respiratory and cardiac conditions," he said.

"Those children may get a more severe COVID- 19 but will still be very well managed with COVID-19 and their illness may be very similar if they were to get influenza or other viral infections."

A doctor with a stethoscope smiling
Tom Connell says COVID-19 is only a mild illness for the vast majority of children.(Supplied)

Dr Connell said data had also shown increased mental health concerns linked to lockdowns and children being away from school.

He supported the Victorian government's efforts to reduce risks at schools — it is introducing near identical COVID-safe measures as NSW.

But he also encouraged families with a vulnerable family member to do what they could to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading.

He said this included making sure they were vaccinated, were washing their hands often at home, that children were tested for COVID even if they have very mild symptoms and family members isolated from each other where possible within a house, if one person did become unwell.


Source: ABC

Older Post Newer Post