A mother whose five children with learning and health disabilities haven’t attended school since March has said she will only send them back once a Covid-19 vaccine is available.
Jodie Frankum, 39, from Didcot in Oxfordshire, told Femail she believes the school environment isn’t safe due to a perceived lack of social distancing – and insists she is taking the measure to ‘protect her family’.
However, Mrs Frankum, whose five ‘vulnerable’ children go to four different schools, claims she has received little support, especially from one school which she alleges demand she calls every day to report her child as absent or they will report her to the police.
Mrs Frankum, who is mother to Brendon, 15, Leah, 13, Tye, eight, Kacey, eight, and Tommy, seven, has kept her five children at home since schools first shut in March – and she now dedicates four hours a day to homeschooling them.
Jodie Frankum, 39, from Didcot in Oxfordshire, believes the school environment isn’t safe due to a perceived lack of social distancing – and insists she is taking the measure to ‘protect her family’. Pictured with her children Brendon, 15, Leah, 13, Tye, eight, Kacey, eight, and Tommy, seven
However, Mrs Frankum, who suffers with anxiety and mental health issues, doesn’t want to de-register her children and homeschool them full time – and wants them to return to school when there is a Covid-19 vaccine.
For now she refuses to send them back – despite government guidance that all school-age children should currently attend.
Mrs Frankum told FEMAIL: ‘I don’t want to send my children back to school until a vaccine is available.
‘It’s disgusting that the schools and the government are threatening to fine parents who keep their children off school in the current climate; my children’s health is more important to me.
‘I have refused to return the kids as I think it’s terrible how schools are not socially distancing.
Mrs Frankum, who suffers with anxiety and mental health issues, doesn’t want to de-register her children and homeschool them full time – and wants them to return to school when there is a Covid-19 vaccine
‘At school, they have huge bubbles and they also let kids attend with coughs, colds and temperatures without asking them to be tested for coronavirus. It is not safe. All I’m doing is protecting my family.’
Jodie’s 15-year-old son Brendon suffers from anxiety, OCD and learning disabilities while her eldest daughter Leah has asthma, learning disabilities and is under assessment for autism.
Eight-year-old Tye is deaf, and has autism, ADHD and a bowel condition, while Kacey suffers with asthma and hyper mobility and Tommy has autism, learning disabilities, asthma and respiratory issues.
Mrs Frankum explained that each one of the four schools her five children go to is handling their situation differently.
She said: ‘Fitzwaryn school has been very supportive with all my concerns and they are amazing.
Eight-year-old Tye (left) is deaf, and has autism, ADHD and a bowel condition, while Kacey (right) suffers with asthma and hyper mobility
‘Willow Croft school is supportive but I worry as there are lots of children being allowed to go in with coughs and temperatures.
‘New Marston school is on amber alert, they have no social distance bubbles and they have sent letters threatening to fine me if I don’t send my child back.
‘Schools are basically threatening me with penalty fines if I don’t send my children to school.
‘If I don’t call New Marston every day to report my child as absent then it’s possible for them to send the police to me for a missing child.
Mrs Frankum’s eldest daughter Leah (pictured) has asthma, learning disabilities and is under assessment for autism
Jodie’s 15-year-old son Brendon (pictured) suffers from anxiety, OCD and learning disabilities
‘It is not safe with the number of cases going up and my children don’t feel comfortable or safe to be made to go back to school.’
Mrs Frankum insists she believes her children’s health and complex needs are more important than them returning to school.
How to check if your kids’ school is in a Covid danger zone
Last month the National Education Union launched an online tool which lets parents type in their children’s school’s name and see levels of infection in the area.
It displays the number of Covid-19 cases in their locality, whether it is on a watchlist or if local restrictions are in place.
The NEU believes it will reinforce public health messaging from local authorities and Government where cases are higher.
The site will use the increased amounts of data now made available by the Government. Click here to visit the website.
New Marston school is also reportedly threatening to call social services and the county council – following procedures for a missing child – if Jodie doesn’t report every absence.
She said: ‘I do homeschool with my children; we focus on main life skills as my children have special needs.
‘We also do reading, written work and some maths. We use tablets and laptops with lots of different resources to help them out with their learning.
‘I’m level 1 BSL [British Sign Language] and looking to do some more BSL language so I can help my deaf son as much as I can. I am always asking for work packs for my children too.’
Yesterday it was reported the number of recorded Covid-19 cases in Oxfordshire increased by 127 in 24 hours. The rate of infection in Oxfordshire now stands at 750 cases per 100,000 people. The county is currently in tier one of the government’s new three-tiered system.
Mrs Frankum said Willow Croft school have been extremely supportive and loaned work as well as a laptop, while Fitzwaryn school are planning to send her a laptop home too.
However Jodie said New Marston school ‘are not helping’ with homeschooling, which she admitted can be difficult to manage.
The mother added: ‘I work with all of them together and also individually as they are all at different age groups in their learning.
‘We do two hours of work in the morning and two hours of work in the afternoon as well as calming time therapy.
‘Keeping the children’s well being and mental health in a good place is also important so they are happy, healthy and calm at all times.’
Mrs Frankum (pictured with her son Tommy as a baby) insists she believes her children’s health and complex needs are more important than them returning to school
Mrs Frankum’s youngest son Tommy (pictured) has autism, learning disabilities, asthma and respiratory issues
Explaining the issues she is facing with school enrollment, Jodie explained that Kacey’s place at Willow Croft is being ‘held’ because they are understanding.
She also insisted Fitzwaryn school is holding Tommy and Brendon’s places as she hasn’t been made to feel like she needs to de-role them.
However, she has had to de-role Leah from Aureus school as they reportedly told her elective home schooling couldn’t be a temporary measure.
Jodie is also having to look at different options for Tye as she claims New Marston primary school is insisting she reports him as absent every day.
A spokesperson for Willowcroft community school said: ‘Although we cannot comment on individual families, we are keen for all children to return to school, in line with Government advice and we are doing all we can to ensure that the school is as Covid safe as possible.
Mrs Frankum (pictured with her five children) insists she believes her kids’ health and complex needs are more important than them returning to school
‘We appreciate that families have differing circumstances and some have anxiety about their children’s return. We keep in touch with our families, provide support and try to alleviate their fears.’
A spokesman for Aureus School commented: ‘Current government guidance for school and parental responsibility is that students are expected to attend school.’
A spokesperson for Fitzwaryn School said: ‘The Propeller Academy Trust or any of its schools, does not comment on any individual children or families matters, to ensure our safeguarding and privacy procedures are adhered to at all times.’
New Marston Primary School has been approached for comment.