I feel sorry for the pupils - and parents - as some Norfolk primary schools stay closed

School building and lettering COVID-19 School closed on green chalkboard. Hand drawn sketch. Corona

Scores of primary schools in Norfolk won't be reopening on Monday after the Christmas break - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

My neighbour says she jinxed it on Sunday afternoon.

I saw her in the street shortly after it was announced that the school her son and my kids attend wouldn't be opening tomorrow for the start of a new term. She said she'd just got her son's school uniform ready when she saw the email from the school that plenty of parents would have expected.

As a dad of two boys aged eight and five, I was pinning my hopes on them going back to school on Monday, partly to relieve their boredom, but also to give them some much-needed routine.

We'd both watched the news over the weekend and seen the prime minster say schools should go back on Monday if they had the resource to do so. To be honest, it has been wishful thinking since we entered Tier 4 on Boxing Day.

My eldest son has already been off since early December after a positive Covid case closed his class down a fortnight before the Christmas holidays and while you may think they've relished the time off, the opposite is true.

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We had two weeks of Zoom classes with his school buddies and the teaching staff were excellent in giving them work to do but the hopes that they really would be back just after Christmas have remained at that ever since they broke up in December.

Sure they can do work at home, but it doesn't compare to mixing with people their own age, having time apart from their parents and siblings and having the return to normal school life that had been promised before Christmas.

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While I wasn't that worried as a parent last year when the first lockdown happened, for the first time I'm genuinely starting to worry that my son is slipping behind, both on his schooling and on the psychological damage being off school again is starting to have.

He's lacking motivation, becoming harder to discipline and getting easily distracted as us parents struggle to stimulate their children in the same way teachers can do.

So the news on Sunday that my son's school wouldn't be reopening is a tough one to take. My heart and head says keep the kids off, but it's not what they want, and, as a parent trying to work and now educate my children at home for the forseeable future, it's not what I or any other parent wants either.

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