Amy Jonson, whose nine-year-old son Jayden has cerebral palsy, said he needs the specialist equipment and help he gets at his mainstream school and that home learning online has not worked well for him when his school was shut or when he had to self-isolate.
She said he is also in constant pain because planned hip surgery was cancelled due to coronavirus.
Amy has tried to help Jayden as much as she can, but claimed that Jayden, who attends Cardiff’s Marlborough Primary School, now has big gaps in his learning after the summer term lockdown closure and some coronavirus disruption last term.
She now fears that rising coronavirus rates locally will mean face to face lessons won’t resume on January 11 as planned. Even if they do she is worried that closures will continue on and off this term.
She said her son loves his school but claims he had little remote learning he could engage with in the first lockdown or when schools shut early before Christmas. Amy said he also struggled to learn remotely during a period of self-isolation after a case in his class last term.
“Children with additional learning needs are not really taken into consideration with online learning,” Amy said.
“My son is non-verbal and one size fits all remote learning doesn’t work for everyone. The long term effect of all this on children like Jayden will be devastating.
“It was impossible for me to home school him properly because I don’t have the equipment. I know it could not be helped in the first lockdown but now these children need help.
“Parents of children with special needs are used to being behind closed doors, but at some point these things have to be brought out into the open.”
Lockdown restrictions have also meant Jayden has missed vital physiotherapy and speech therapy sessions and is in constant pain because hip surgery he was due to have was also cancelled.
“Home learning is the tip of the iceberg. As a parent of a special needs child you have to fight tooth and nail for everything, and it’s even harder in a pandemic because you are told things can’t be done because of Covid.
“Jayden needs hip surgery because both hips are dislocated. If they are not seen to there is a risk he will get sclerosis of the spine.
“Physiotherapy is also really important for children with cerebral palsy because it’s important to help muscle strength and stop cramp.
“He gets muscle aches and is in so much pain we have had to increase his medication. Pain brings on seizures so he has had more seizures.
“I know we were plunged into lockdown but they should be bringing services back in.”
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Cardiff council has announced plans to re-open schools from January 11, but has warned plans may alter if there is a “significant change” in the coronavirus situation locally.
The council website says: “In Cardiff, schools will continue to provide distance learning to pupils from Monday 4 January. This is to enable schools to assess staff availability and to make appropriate plans for the return of face-to-face learning.
“From Wednesday 6 January, schools will provide provision for vulnerable learners and critical worker childcare, where they have the capacity to do so.”
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It added: “In light of the increasing transmission it will be important to ensure that provision in Cardiff schools supports frontline blue light services, NHS, school workers and social care as part of the critical workforce. Schools will make local decisions, made in discussions with parents over need. Priority should be given when both parents are critical workers and where all other childcare options have been exhausted.
“From Monday 11 January, the expectation is that all pupils will return for face-to-face learning.
“Exceptions may be made if a school is affected by significant community transmission or staff availability, which impacts on school capacity.
“Schools in Cardiff are being supported to deliver distance learning throughout this period. Significant digital provision has already been put in place. This includes more than 11,500 digital devices and 2,000, 4G broadband devices, which the council has distributed to pupils so they can access online learning during school closures caused by Covid-19.”
Cardiff council was asked about Amy’s concerns but did not want to comment.