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Children banned from school over missing HSE form

Gript has spoken to a number of parents who say that their children were sent home from school yesterday after the parents failed to fill in a “back to school” form provided by the HSE which asked parents to certify that their children were free of infectious diseases.

The form asks parents to declare that their children are free of infectious diseases, and that the parents have complied with all public health advice:

Gript spoke to two parents yesterday, one based in Dublin, and another in the midlands, who had their children sent home from school yesterday because the aforementioned form had not been filled out.

In one case, the form had been sent by email on Friday, and not seen by the parent. In another case, the parent said that she did not feel it necessary to fill out the form because the wording made it seem as if it was only to be completed if the child had been absent from school because of illness, whereas her child had only been absent because of the school closures.

It is not clear whether all schools required the form to be filled out, or whether schools were operating on an ad-hoc basis, with some requiring the form to be filled out, and others adopting the second parent’s interpretation that it only applied in the event of an illness-related absence.

In any case, it is not entirely clear what purpose the form serves, or on what basis a child could or should be denied access to school in the event that the form is not filled out.

The only logical purpose of the form is to transfer liability from the schools to the parents should a child be identified as the source of a covid infection in a school. But this makes no sense – there would be no liability arising in any case, since it is not against the law to be sick, or to unknowingly transmit a virus to your classmates.

The declaration, for example, doesn’t even ask a parent to certify that their child is covid free. It simply asks them to declare that they believe their child is covid free. That’s because, in the absence of 100% reliable home testing kits, none of us can ever truly know whether we or our children are carrying a virus in the first place.

So what’s the point of the form, and what’s the basis for denying a child access to school over it?

Unfortunately, we couldn’t find out – because it would have compromised our sources to ask the individual schools what basis they were using to justify their decisions.

What we can report, however, is that at least two children were denied access to classes yesterday because this form – which appears to serve no practical or useful purpose – was not filled out by their mothers.

We can also report that neither of the parents concerned is any kind of troublemaker, or covid “denier”, or conscientious objector to lockdown. There was no principle objection, from either, to signing the form. They simply did not know, in both cases, that it was a conditional requirement for their child to attend school.

And why should they have known?

As if parents didn’t have enough stress on their plates.

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