• Type:
  • Genre:
  • Duration:
  • Average Rating:


Poll reveals half of parents unconvinced that school is safe for their children’s return

Michael Savage | Sun 24 May 2020 02.41 EDT

Teachers’ union leader warns situation ‘untenable’ as health officials say track and trace system has been left too late

An empty playground at Milton St. John’s Primary School in Mossley, Greater Manchester.
 An empty playground at Milton St. John’s Primary School in Mossley, Greater Manchester. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/Getty Images

Parents are divided over the prospect of sending their children back to school, a new poll has revealed, as parent groups warned that mixed messages and poor communication had caused widespread anxiety about returning.

With school leaders still grappling with the practicalities of reopening primary schools for some year groups in just a week’s time in England, an Opinium poll for the Observer found that 43 per cent of primary school parents and 54 per cent of secondary school parents feel anxious about the prospects of returning.

Primary schools have been instructed to prepare to bring back reception, year 1 and year 6 classes, as well as their early years provision. However, councils of all political colours have suggested they will not follow the advice, while Welsh and Scottish schools will wait to reopen.

There are now also concerns that the return of pupils has become such a chaotic issue that it could worsen the attainment gap between affluent and poor areas and families. Some teaching unions have suggested the families of vulnerable children have been more reluctant to see them return to school. David Laws, the former education minister who now oversees the Education Policy Institute, said that a widening divide was a “significant risk”

John Jolly, chief executive of the parent group Parentkind, said there was confusion about the reopening of schools. “Parents are looking for certainty,” he said. “Some want the certainty of saying schools are safe and we’re going back. Some want the certainty of keeping children out of school until there is a vaccine, which may reflect families with underlying conditions. Then you have other parents that want a clear timeline.

“Parents are not convinced about messages around schools being safe. They are not sure about that message from the government, or that the evidence for that is being communicated. There is a lot of uncertainty about the message being communicated by schools locally.”

Mary Bousted, the joint general secretary of the National Education Union, warned the situation on the ground was now “chaotic and increasingly untenable”. “Not only are school leaders having to think about how to reopen schools, but how they convince parents that their children should go back, and organise the school site. Then they don’t know how many staff they will have. Schools are vital for society. But they have to be safe.”Advertisement

However, professor Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said schools should be allowed to reopen. “Covid-19 generally barely affects children and young people and actually we’ve shown that they are about half as susceptible,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “There is no doubt in my mind for children themselves, the balances are clearly in favour of going back to school.” He said the risks to family and the community could be managed with an effective track and trace system and a phased return.

While a working track and trace system is seen as necessary for rules around schools and other parts of the lockdown to be loosened, several local government sources warned that councils were now facing a race against time. There have been complaints that local public health officials have been sidelined during the pandemic, despite their expertise. They are now being drafted in as part of several pilots of the track and trace system, but insiders warn they now face huge time pressures.

Professor Donna Hall, head of the New Local Government Network, said: “At the beginning of March, public health directors were quite rapidly cut out of the national pandemic response. They are there for all aspects of public health, working on things like HIV, hepatitis, pandemic flu. Disease control is their job. They are highly skilled … but they’ve been cut out in quite a strange way.

“Other countries have deployed local resilience forums for testing and tracing. A national contact centre is never going to get to the granular detail you need for contact tracing. I’ve been out with the people who do it – they are forensic. You won’t get that through an app. It is people on the ground, observing how a disease spreads. It could be from a petrol pump or a salt shaker. That’s the kind of detail needed.

“They may be piloting things, but we’ve left it really late for that. Not giving local government a big role is foolish and dangerous.”

We would love to hear from you, have a story, tip or recipe you would like to share with our readers? Feel free to email it to throughlovewelearn@gmail.com. 

Judge demands ICE better explain why it won’t release 350 parents, children

By Nomaan MerchantUpdated 31 minutes ago

MerchantUpdated 31 minutes ago

Doctors and others protest conditions that detainees being held by ICE face outside of the Broward Transitional Center, during the COVID-19 crisis, May 1, in Pompano Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)HOUSTON — A federal judge on Friday criticized the Trump administration’s handling of detained immigrant children and families, ordering the government to give the court detailed information about its efforts to quickly release them in the wake of the coronavirus.

U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee on Friday ordered the U.S. government to better explain why it hasn’t released some of the approximate 350 parents and children in three family detention centers.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has come under fire for allegedly asking parents in custody if they would allow their children to be released without them.

Parents at all three facilities — one in Pennsylvania and two in Texas — were called into short meetings and asked if there were sponsors available to care for their children, lawyers who represent the families reported that late last week. They were then asked to sign a form.

ICE has declined to release the form.

Gee wrote that she didn’t find that ICE officially sought to get those formal waivers, but that officers’ conversations with detained parents “caused confusion and unnecessary emotional upheaval and did not appear to serve the agency’s legitimate purpose of making continuous individualized inquiries regarding efforts to release minors.”

While some parents reported slightly different details, the lawyers said they broadly believed they were being asked to choose between staying in custody with their children or letting their children leave.

“They were asking mothers to separate from their 1-year-old infants to go to a sponsor that perhaps had never even met or known the child,” said Bridget Cambria, executive director of the group ALDEA, which represents families at the ICE detention center in Leesport, Pennsylvania.

The Trump administration again faced allegations that it is trying to separate immigrant families as part of an overall border crackdown. The separation of immigrant families drew bipartisan condemnation in 2018 when the Trump administration implemented a “zero tolerance” policy on southern border crossings.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement accused advocates of making “misrepresentations” and says it remains in compliance with President Donald Trump’s June 2018 executive order intended to stop family separation. In a statement Thursday, the agency said the form was used as part of a “routine parole review consistent with the law” and Gee’s previous orders.

“The court recognized that parents, not the government, should decide whether the juvenile should be released to a sponsor,” the agency said. “To comply with this order, ICE was required to check with each of the juveniles – and their parents – in custody … to make individual parole determinations with respect to those juveniles.”

In court papers filed May 15, the government noted more than 170 times that it had refused to release children currently in detention because the “parent does not wish to separate.” It labeled many children as flight risks without providing more specifics.

Gee wrote that she didn’t find that ICE officially sought to get those formal waivers, but that officers’ conversations with detained parents “caused confusion and unnecessary emotional upheaval and did not appear to serve the agency’s legitimate purpose of making continuous individualized inquiries regarding efforts to release minors.”

On Friday, Gee called on the government and advocates to devise a new process to determine whether families could be released.

Gee oversees a court settlement known as the Flores agreement, which controls how the U.S. is supposed to treat migrant children in its custody.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. government has imposed an effective ban on the entry of families and children seeking asylum. It has expelled hundreds of children within a few days of their crossing the border with Mexico instead of turning them over to government facilities designed to care for them, as normally required by federal law.

The agency says it releases most families from its detention centers within 20 days, the general limit under the Flores settlement for holding children in a secure facility.

But many families currently in custody have been detained for months, some since last year.

Advocates contend that ICE should release all families from detention especially as the coronavirus has spread rapidly through immigration detention, with more than 1,100 people contracting COVID-19 and a positive test rate of about 50%. At ICE’s largest family detention center in Dilley, Texas, the detainees include a child with epilepsy, a 1-year-old with breathing problems, and several children with heart murmurs, according to Shalyn Fluharty, director of the legal group Proyecto Dilley.

ICE says it has released hundreds of people deemed to have heightened exposure to the virus, though it has contested lawsuits across the country demanding the releases of others.

The Trump administration is also currently appealing Gee’s order last year stopping it from terminating the Flores agreement.

We would love to hear from you, have a story, tip or recipe you would like to share with our readers? Feel free to email it to throughlovewelearn@gmail.com. 

Divorcing and Becoming a Contented Single Parent: 6 Stages

From marital discord to satisfying single parenting: 274 life stories

Posted May 23, 2020 | Belle DePaulo, Ph.D.

What is it like to go from being a married parent sharing a home to a divorced single parent who is working and caring for the kids and who is the only adult in the household? To find out, University of Antwerp researchers Dries Van Gasse and Dimitri Mortelmans, with the help of trained students, interviewed 274 Belgian single parents, in person.

Each person’s experience was unique, yet a set of commonalities emerged, too. Getting divorced and becoming a single parent was a process, which typically unfolded in six stages. Van Gasse and Mortelmans described their findings in “Reorganizing the single-parent family system: Exploring the process perspective on divorce,” first published online in March 2020 in Family Relations.

All 274 single parents worked at least part time and had at least one child younger than 18 who lived with them at least half the time. All stayed single rather than repartnering. Most were single mothers, though 19% were single fathers. The single parents ranged in age from 25 to 63. Their divorce had occurred between 1 and 25 years previously.

The 6 Phases of Divorcing and Becoming a Contented Single Parent

In Belgium, divorce has become more commonplace in the past three decades, following important legal reforms. Because of successful economic redistribution, single parents there have low rates of poverty. Nonetheless, dual-earner couples are the norm, and “families in which one parent has responsibility for both the income and the family duties still have difficulties in attaining the same standard of living as other families.”

Phase 1: Initial Contentment and Decline

The process of divorcing begins when happily-ever-after doesn’t seem so happy anymore. Contentment with the marriage begins to erode, and tensions rise.

Those who are judgmental about divorce like to claim that people don’t take divorce seriously enough. Van Gasse and Mortlemans found that none of the 274 people in their research fit that description. Most struggled with the process and took some time to decide to dissolve the marriage.

A 40-year-old woman who had been single for two years said:

“When I thought about being in this situation for another 20 years, I became totally depressed…On the other hand, …you don’t decide such things in a hurry. For me, it took six years…”

The transition to single parenting begins when a definitive decision is made to end the marriage.

Phase 2: Drive Toward Transition

Even if the marital relationship had been a troubled one for a very long time, the initial transition to single parenting can be jolting. The intensity of emotions during the early phase after the split depends on many factors, including the reasons for the divorce, the way the ex-partners relate to each other, the reactions of the children, and the support they all have in their new lives.

Also important is the way the decision to divorce was made. On one end of the spectrum are unilateral decisions that are kept secret until the moment they are sprung, as, for example, when one partner slips away with their worldly goods, leaving the other to return from work to a half-empty house and a spouse who has vanished. On the other end are the decisions that are discussed openly and at length, often in therapy. Most processes fall somewhere in between. Unsurprisingly, the more open and mutual processes tend to be followed by less painful transitions.

Phase 3: The Hazy Period

In the next phase, the authors note, “people live in a haze, liberated from old routines but also short on money and time and uncertain how they will survive as single parents… they must find new ways to organize parental roles, simple household routines, finances, and their work life.” Many look to parents or other relatives or friends for help.

The hazy period can feel overwhelming. Many of the interviewees had difficulty remembering that stage.

Phase 4: Temporary Reorganization of Family Life

After a while, emotions are not so intense anymore, and single parents focus more on the practical issues involved in reorganizing their lives. Some look to create or strengthen ties with a broader network of support, and others strive for more independence and self-sufficiency.

A 34-year old who wanted more closeness said:

“…returning to my birthplace was like anchoring my ship in a safe haven. I know family and friends here will always be there for me, and they are with me every day of the week.”

For a 46-year-old man who had been single for 11 years, the process of divorce was a journey toward independence:

“When the kids were young, my mother was here every day, picking them up from school, doing homework… I started to feel uncomfortable about it, and we had a talk. It turned out we had the same feeling. It was time for me to regain independence…”

Phase 5: Sustainable Reorganization of Work and Care

The early attempts at reorganizing life often turn out to be temporary. In the next stage, single parents figure out more sustainable ways of dealing with the many challenges of earning a living, caring for their children, and maintaining a household. They get more adept at managing their time and their finances. Some find new work or new ways of getting help with chores. They “set up a new system of daily routines that makes it possible to regain further control over their lives.”

Phase 6: New Period of Contentment: Reorganization and Acceptance

Although some single parents continue to struggle with the changes in their lives, they tend to see their current difficulties as less problematic than their former relationship with their spouse. Other single parents “once again have a sense of what they are capable of achieving…They are content with how their lives have turned out.”

The 46-year-old single father whose mother helped him initially said:

“I can make ends meet and don’t overextend myself… the children have landed on their feet… they are nice guys who can stand up for themselves and are doing great.”

A 52-year-old who had been single for eight years said:

“I became unbelievably rich with life, that is, human richness, openness, the warmth, the social life with children, family, friends. That is something that is much more valuable for me now. I give less value to how things look: Your image and material values are less important.”

A 46-year-old woman who had been single for 11 years told the interviewer:

“My image of single-parent families has changed after my divorce… A world opened up for me… I stopped searching for a new partner… I was happy being a single parent.”

The Big Picture: Challenges, But Also Resilience

If you were to think about divorce as something that happens at one point in time, and then focus on that one discrete event, it might seem like an overwhelmingly negative experience. And for many of the adults who go through it, that early phase really can be a true life crisis.

In people’s real lives, though, getting divorced and becoming a single parent is a process with multiple stages. The initial phases can be deeply unsettling for many people, but over time, many single parents create satisfying new lives for themselves and their children. Their story is not one of devastation, but of resilience.

Scroll to top