No masks, hardly any tests – almost everything in the schools seems to be running like before Corona. What appeals to some causes deep concern to others. Here writes the mother of 13-year-old Kalea, who became a nursing case due to Corona.

Dear school authority,

Believe me, I’m tired of it too and only half listen when virologists predict a renewed increase in infections with the approaching World Cup – keyword public viewing.

I can understand a little bit when people pretend the pandemic is over. But there are limits, areas where the mind should reach out. At schools, for example, where testing is extremely unreliable, on a voluntary basis, distance rules no longer apply, masks apparently never existed and, as our children report, they are no longer even aired. I’d better not even start on the subject of air filters, the discussion seems to have fizzled out as if it never existed.

What I absolutely cannot understand: that the tipping of any protective measures only seems to apply to parts of the population. I could bet: Many are sitting in the home office while you are reading this or at least have the opportunity to withdraw there at any time. Wherever you look, as a rule, employees who suspect an infection are still generously sent home. Such precautions are not possible for school children. All we can do is hope that everything goes well. This time.

We have four children and it’s the same every day: at some point the three who go to school come home and greet the sister, who is too weak many days, with hugs or kisses. Kalea has long-Covid and is bedridden after almost two years of illness. I’m tense every time during the greetings. All of our children go to different schools, which of course increases the risk of infection. What if Kalea gets Corona again? You, who with your medical history are now clearly a high-risk patient?

Like a bad cold, we thought when Kalea first contracted it in the winter of 2020. And that it would happen again. But the headache got worse, pain all over the body, the distances that our child could cover became shorter, the exhaustion became more pronounced.

Do you at least have children like our daughter in mind when you just run the business as if this virus never existed? Children who are now risk patients and are therefore at extra risk? Or do you still have the same attitude that you gave us back then: new illness, unprecedented situation, do your best? At the time, you also made it clear that Kalea was an isolated case.

As someone who connects with affected parents via various online forums, I can tell you: you are wrong. Over the past few months I’ve been in contact with hundreds of moms and dads like us who feel completely let down by places like you. A lack of prevention is one thing. A lack of support when the child has already fallen into the well and the offspring can hardly get out of bed is the second form of being left hanging.

As far as the second is concerned, the problem unfortunately got worse for us last spring: Kalea got Corona again back then. After that, she was no longer able to walk on her own for three months, she needed nursing care, and it has remained that way to this day. And now? Welcome to the chaos of offices, that’s all I can say, that’s where we’ve been for over 681 days. Just like many other parents of affected children and young people in Germany.

No matter who we contacted, the school, the headmistress, the counselor, the school authority, the state office for schools and education, the youth welfare office, the social welfare office or the public health officer: everyone always says and said the same thing. An isolated case. Speaking of which, we can turn this around. In individual cases, we definitely meet people who are personally well-disposed towards us, teachers who you can tell how they struggle with themselves and their self-image when they talk to us about how education for Kalea despite their condition and the special risk situation is still possible and how we can support them all in the best possible way.

But the school system has never become active on a larger scale, there have never been any efforts to actively seek a solution with everyone involved – from teachers to medical officers. As parents, we remain supplicants who keep begging and knocking on doors. A horrible feeling.

Most recently, even the German Medical Association emphasized how important it is to enable children with long-Covid to “participate” in school. In fact, the mothers and fathers I speak to almost always experience the opposite: the system wriggles out, repeating like a mantra what it cannot or must not do.

Like the call in the staff room the other day to sign Kalea off school again for the week. “But you already know, it can’t go on like this…” Where it should be known that long-term sick notes for children with Long-Covid are hardly available and that’s why we bring new pink slips of paper every week. Hello school authority, this is where you come in. Because, as you know, schooling is compulsory in Germany, so you can’t do without the slips of paper. Or only when compulsory schooling is suspended. We suggested that. They waved them off: “Only with a doctor’s certificate.”

In fact, we have had countless visits to the doctor and examinations, and there are numerous suspected diagnoses. Everything at Kalea points to MF/CFS, the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome that can be triggered by the virus but is surprisingly unknown even in medical circles. And so it happens that to this day, some doctors attribute our daughter’s condition to puberty, to the supposedly difficult period of homeschooling, and then even to truancy and family problems. That’s sad. But guess what? Even sadder is how you deal with it. “There’s not much we can do about that, we’re bound by the school law.” As if this pandemic only existed yesterday. As if there weren’t a fundamental possibility to help families and especially children with disabilities, instead of demanding full service. Yes, we have fought on this front as well.

In connection with other “peculiarities”, school has this thing called compensation for disadvantages on the screen as a matter of course. LRS, dyscalculia, ADHD… something works here, why not with Long-Covid? Oh that’s right, I just said it myself: the individual case…

They don’t want to know how many doctor’s appointments I went to, how many calls I had to fight for things I wanted to put in writing during the first year of Kalea’s illness. And then suddenly many things were actually possible. After or in particularly strenuous lessons, Kalea could take time off, the total number of lessons was reduced. As long as our child wasn’t doing so badly, this “compliance” at least brought some relief. If you really want to call the individual points listed in a paper that. Because in reality it wasn’t you who came towards me, it was me who fought. Other parents are just getting started. Each individual case, it seems to me, stands alone on this front.

Kalea finally made it through the fifth grade and the first half of the sixth with an average of 1.8, despite the many absences. Thanks to a mother who’s reduced her job and played private tutor – I should probably say so.

How to proceed now? If and when Kalea will make sixth grade? Probably nobody can say that at the moment. Just as little whether it might hit our child a third time, the horror show par excellence!

Hand on heart, what are you afraid of? That you would get real work if you worked for your protégés?

That you make yourself unpopular if you don’t swim with the mainstream that is fed up with Corona?

I demand:

I ask you: Take these lines to heart, which I am writing on behalf of so many parents of children affected by Long-Covid. And for those who may still find themselves in this situation.

With this in mind: Stay healthy.

One mom of many

This text was written by Elena Lierck, contact person of the group “Strong together for our kids”.

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