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‘Threat of Long Covid means this is most worrying start to a new school year’

Polly Hudson questions the decision to send children back to school without all the safety measures we had in place before as we still wait to see if vaccines for kids will be approved

A decision still haven’t been taken about pupil vaccinations

I haven’t worn a uniform in years, but I’ve got the worst case of Back-To-School-itis I’ve ever experienced.

A new term’s about to start, and like parents all over the country, I’m worried.

We all want our kids to be educated, for the disruptions of the last two academic years to become a distant memory, but we seem to be starting off on a very wobbly footing.

The Joint Committee on ­Vaccination and Immunisation hasn’t decided whether secondary pupils should be vaccinated, never mind primary. So we’re about to send our precious offspring – those we would do absolutely anything to keep safe, above all else – into battle completely unarmed. Is this OK?

Worse, SAGE has warned that ministers should be planning for a huge rise in Covid cases as schools return. Teaching unions predict that schools will have to reintroduce safety measures within weeks as a result.

Infections are already creeping up, another variant of concern has emerged, all precautions have been removed and many of the new rules are baffling. (Children can continue to go to school even if their parents test positive, to merrily infect whoever they come into contact with, which will be everyone, because bubbles have been scrapped.) Is this OK?









Statistically kids are unlikely to be very ill if they catch Covid, although it’s not impossible. American children went back to school in early August and the number in hospital there is higher than it’s ever been.

But how ill they get while they have ­coronavirus is only half the story. An ­estimated 34,000 children in the UK are suffering from Long Covid, new ONS research shows.

As more and more people around me fall prey to its ­debilitating effects, what I’m starting to be more concerned about is the risk of our children catching something now that negatively impacts them for the rest of their lives.

We talk about Long Covid like it’s one thing, one syndrome fits all, when really it seems it’s different for everyone.

Although exhaustion appears universal, I know someone whose heart has been badly affected, another who has problems with his lungs. A mum of three who – a year after ‘recovering’ from the virus – struggles to climb the stairs in her house.

A woman in her 50s who has to keep an oxygen tank in every room and can never work again.

A bloke who used to run five miles every day, now he can’t walk to the end of his road.







Sometimes I speak on the phone to a friend who has it, and after a while it’s like his batteries are running out, you can tangibly hear his energy draining away. He has been living like this for 14 months, with no end in sight.

If my son, who is seven, goes to school, catches this virus, and then has to endure lasting health implications that affect the rest of his entire life, I’d never forgive… who? Myself? The Government? The JCVI? And what difference would that make anyway? By then it will be too late.

If we get this wrong, it is our ­children who will pay the price – possibly with a life sentence of ill health, that could stop them becoming the people they want to be, having the future they dream of.

Seriously, is this OK?




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