Student banned from school trip ‘for being COVID safe’
A PARENT is bitterly disappointed her Year 7 son is being excluded from an end-of-year excursion because COVID-19-related absences meant his yearly attendance fell below 92 per cent.
"Health officials have drummed it into parents that if children have even the slightest symptom of being unwell we must keep them home, so that is what I did," said Vera Lysenko-Te Hau of her boy Shades.
"Every time Shades had a day off school it was because I knew he wasn't 100 per cent but wasn't bad enough for a medical certificate. I also didn't want him to be exposed to people who may genuinely be unwell.
"He actually begged me to let him go to school when he had a slight cough or sniffle because he was worried about his attendance, but I didn't want teachers to think I was that bad mother who sent kids to school unwell."
Pacific Pines State High promised years 7, 8, and 9 a trip to Wet 'n' Wild in December if their school fees were paid up-to-date, they reached 92 per cent attendance and had received no disciplinary action throughout the year.
Ms Lysenko-Te Hau, of Pacific Pines, said that during COVID-19 homeschooling Shades was achieving top marks and was praised by his teachers for his hard work.
"He's had exceptional results in his subjects this year, his first year of high school. My fees are paid and he has not received any punishments, not even a detention.
"We're still in the middle of a pandemic, with restrictions, so surely this year of all years the school could at least have some heart and let kids such as my son go despite his lower than required attendance.
"It feels as though he's being punished for doing the right thing and staying home when he's been unwell. It's just so wrong and I know my opinion is shared by many other parents. He's been looking forward to this trip."
The mum of six, who works at home full-time as a result of COVID, said she knew the importance of school attendance because she had a child at university, two at high school, one in primary school and two at preschool. None of her other children have ever been excluded from an excursion because of their attendance record, she said.
"I don't apologise for keeping him home for any of these days. The consensus in the community, and my own concerns given the amount of kids I have, is to keep kids home if unwell or showing any symptoms of even a mild cold."
A Department of Education spokesperson said parents had been sent a letter informing them of the attendance criteria to participate in the excursion, and that it only referred to terms 3 and 4.
"Students have been encouraged to discuss their eligibility with their year co-ordinator and some decisions are being made on a case-by-case basis as a result."
Originally published as Student banned from school trip 'for being COVID safe'