Thursday, April 18

The ‘boom’ of infections leaves hundreds of schoolchildren alone at home

Sometimes families hide it: They are afraid that when they explain it, they will be branded as bad parents who leave their children helpless. children. Others, desperately, say so to ask for help, because they have no one to leave their children with and they cannot afford to stop working. Children who are left home alone, because they must confine themselves, but whose parents cannot take care of them, are a constant that has definitely exploded with the sixth wave. “It is a horror, children of 4, 5 or 9 years who are left alone and locked up at home. But there is no alternative for them,” complains Sonia Bardagí, president of the federation of single-parent families.

It all starts with coronavirus outbreaks in classrooms. Whether it is children who have tested positive for antigen tests or those who must be confined because there are more than five positive cases in their classroom. “They tell them that the class is confined and they have to go home: that’s where the drama begins”, says Bardagí. Because there are parents who cannot stay with their children at home. If they do it, they risk losing their jobs.

The entities also detect this reality in the educational centers that, during the afternoons, serve vulnerable minors. Centers where they can do school review, socialization activities and where they can eat something balanced, lunch in the case of teenagers, or dinner or snack for the little ones. “It is not a new reality, we have been dragging it in all the waves, but it is true that with this explosion of cases with children in the sixth wave we see it more”, explains Lidia González, responsible for the Ithaca Educational Center from the Collblanc district and the Torrassa de l’Hospitalet de Llobregat.

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No right to leave or telework

“They don’t tell you directly, but there are families who don’t have a family support network: they have no grandparents or anyone to leave the children with, but the parents must continue to work because the jobs they have are without a contract. They do not have the right to leave and if they are absent even for one day they risk being fired,” González continues. We are talking about those jobs of people who are dedicated to caring for the elderly, cleaning or other jobs without a contract and charging at black.

“Sometimes you find out that the children are positive but they bring them to the center anyway because they don’t have anyone to leave them with. The problem is that we cannot accept them because then we are putting the other children at risk and to our staff,” says González. And the children end up locked up at home. There is no other alternative.

“Nothing can be done”

They have also detected it from a similar center in the neighborhoods of Cifuentes, Can Rull and Merinals de Sabadell. “We find a lot of casuistry but they all have a common denominator: if parents stay home with children they lose jobs and income, the risk is enormous and they cannot afford it”, explains Sergi Asensio, head of the L’Esquitx Youth Association. “We have talked about it with our covid reference, he knows the cases of the schools, but the answer is that nothing can be done. There is like an underworld that if it respects these minimum standards, leaves the children homeless, and if you don’t, then you are breaking the rules of the lockdown. We try to raise awareness but it is the only thing we can do. And the Generalitat tells us that there is nothing more we can do,” he insists.

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The most serious problem is experienced by the single parent families, usually made up of single mothers who need to work yes or yes. “If they don’t have a work contract, if they eat from the informal economy, we already have a mess. What do they do with the children?”, also insists Sonia Bardagí, the president of the Federation of Single-Parent Families of Catalonia. Many of these mothers organize themselves to take care of each other’s children so that the rest can work, especially those who are old enough to go to daycare and their families cannot afford it. “They all end up infected, it’s a drama“, insists Bardagí. The Casal dels Infants has also detected a similar case, although a minority.

“We know of children of 9, 4 or 5 years old who stay all day alone locked up at home because they are forced to confine themselves at school… it’s horrifying,” insists Bardagí. For the entities consulted there is nothing new, this reality repeats wave after wave of coronavirus. And despite that, no one has yet proposed any solution. “The mothers explain it to us and they are desperate. Others choose not to take the test because they cannot afford to get infected.. They can’t quit their job, it’s that sad,” insists Bardagí.

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