Thanet school staff member: “The level of stress surrounding those working within schools is beyond anything you can imagine.”

Should schools reopen in January? (stock image)

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) advises that the rate of covid infections could spiral out of control unless schools are closed for the whole of January.

The Joint General Secretaries of the National Education Union reiterated their call on the Prime Minister to keep schools and colleges closed for at least the first two weeks in January, with online learning except for vulnerable children and the children of key workers.

A petition asking that there is no mass return until staff are vaccinated and reliable rapid testing is in place has gained more than 68,000 signatures.

The government says military personnel are on standby to support secondary schools and colleges across England to roll out COVID-19 testing to students and staff when the new term begins in January.

The school reopening timetable is under review, says government.

Here a member of staff at one Thanet school tells us how they feel about being in the classroom during the pandemic. We have agreed to maintain their anonymity:

Unbeknownst to people on the outside looking in, the level of stress surrounding those working within schools is beyond anything you can imagine.

We go in every day, and we get on with our jobs, knowing full well the level of risk to ourselves, our families, and our friends and colleagues.

You blank out the news, you almost walk in to this bubble-this different world where the threat is real, but there’s nothing you can do about it.  You must keep the children happy, focused, calm and unaware of the dangers, while also being the people they turn to with any questions, any fears or worries.

We watch our colleagues catch Covid-we hear that they’re seriously unwell with it.  We catch it ourselves.  And then we come back and get back on with our jobs.

Honestly, there are so many members of staff at a variety of different schools, who want to see the schools shut.  Selfishly-maybe wrongly so, we want to prioritise the health of our own families and ourselves, even though we are being paid to do so for others children.

But we see the speed of the spread of this virus with our own eyes, hundreds of pupils being sent home, colleagues on the verge of panic constantly-it’s honestly terrifying.

Our colleagues are struggling with the level of intensity that they face every single day-their mental health is suffering.  There is no support from ‘above’ because no one knows how to do so. Headteachers are doing their best-all members of staff are.

But when all is said and done, to us, the immediate future of our schools is clear.
We need to close, just until the numbers start to come down, until the vaccine can be given out to more people, and until it feels safer.  We don’t want to be off (contrary to popular opinion), but we surely can’t be admonished for wanting to feel safe for us and our families.


  1. Totally agree the last month and half before xmas I had my two children off constantly due to positive tests in bubble groups,every school was the same its unfair to expect people to go into what is essentially an area of fear,it’s been proven that kids do get it and do spread it so the only time safe to return for teachers,staff and school is when approved protective plan in place.

  2. I get fed up with teachers saying how their mental health is suffering and how they are against it. Myself and colleagues who are my friends are front line workers facing covid and have to disregard how we are and majority have families yet we can’t say we are not going to carry on working for nhs. We need schools to open for our job. They get paid far more than we do yet they moan. Nurses/doctors/porters/cleaners have died in nhs fighting battle! Yet hearing some teachers you think they were fighting battle not nhs

    • It’s completely different for teachers and frontline NHS staff. Teachers have 20-30 children with them constantly for 6 hours a day, breathing, coughing, touching them etc. Teachers are not equipped with PPE. Teachers are expected to be a carer, babysitter, counsellor, mind reader, psychologist, cleaner and much much more before they even begin to educate. Not at any point do they think they are in the same situation as front line NHS workers! But after not being able to see any of their parents, children and grandchildren, they’re now expected to walk into a class full of pupils and be ok with that. Teachers have every respect for NHS staff and will back them wholeheartedly. They also work their arses off to educate your children and give them the best support in such an unstable world. Yes, they do suffer from mental health issues and anxiety. Teaching is a stressful job in any normal circumstance, just like being in the medical profession, but you cannot compare the two. As medical staff your children will still be looked after at school. Don’t condemn teachers for feeling vulnerable and anxious. If we can’t support and help one another now then we’re stuffed! Stay safe everyone, and be kind. We are also losing friends, family and colleagues to this horrendous pandemic.

    • You work for the NHS yet you’re denying that teachers can have mental health issues? No wonder why people don’t reach out for help. As you should know, mental health should not be compared to others. Everyone has their own experiences. And you would never, NEVER tell someone to ‘suck it up’ but here you are basically doing that. Someone tell me how this works. What an absolute joke

      All teachers are educating the next generation, if they don’t think schools should be open then there’s a problem and you should listen. As they chose to promote education.

    • Nicky, you’re here, pissing and moaning about other frontline workers, whom without their availability, means you wouldn’t have free child care so you can go to work every day.

      You also claim to work for the NHS, but are engaged in some pretty serious gaslighting against other frontline workers whom are displaying PTSD symptoms, because?

      teachers and ta’s and site support staff have also died.

      Death and grief aren’t a competition.

      Neither are you a martyr for choosing to do the job you chose.

      Now, why don’t you apply some self awareness and learn from getting schooled off multiple people in the comments?

      PS, as nhs staff, why aren’t you respecting workplace comms policy?

  3. No schools shouldn’t open in January. Give the kids laptops if they havnt got one and a dongle if they havnt got the internet. I’m sure teachers can do lessons online just as well as they can in the classroom. It will keep every safe until the covid cases are right down. The stupid PM Boris Johnson should stop being so indecisive and make a decision not to open schools until it is safe to do so. Soon there wont be any teachers nurses or doctors to cope with the pandemic.

    • I agree keep the schools closed the pandemic is going out of control currently we have to keep really safe now.

  4. Not only should schools be closed but EVERYONE should have to wear a mask as soon as they step outside their front door. And it should cover their face and nose, not be around their neck!!!

    • There really is no point in wearing a mask outdoors.
      Indoors, in shops and so on, however, *everyone* should wear a “proper” face mask. No excuse. No exception. No bit if old tea towel draped round your face.
      Stay at home as much as you possibly can. It protects you.
      And, for goodness sake, do not sent children back to school or students back to college or university until this is sorted out.

    • Surely wearing a face-covering all the time when you’re outside is not necessary, so long as you keep at a safe distance from other people.

    • I agree. I wear one as soon as I go out the front door, after santising my hands before I go out to. With a bottle of hand sanitiser in my pocket and some disposable gloves for if I so need them too. I have been doing this since it all began. I have a bumbag with surface wipes, santiser, gloves, masks you name it and it goes with me everywhere.

  5. Just under 100,000 signatures now so the Prime Minister is going to have to take notice.
    No kids in schools or colleges/universities until they all are tested daily or receive the vaccination or we will never get the figures to a safe rate again.

  6. Iirc the school trade unions thwarted re opening back in June and they are doing it again. Absolute shame on the unions,every one knows why.
    Now again the country needs school staff cooperation for the pupil covid self testing roll out, which will make schools a safer place to work yet again the union is negative.
    Thank you for putting our country into an indefinite higher lockdown tier.
    Others will disagree but the country needs teaching staff to do their part.

    • Do you honestly think teachers are not doing their part. I know from first hand experience teachers have been working in schools from the beginning of lockdown back in March. Those not actually in the school building have been teaching remotely they are not classed as key workers and are put at the bottom of the pile. A teacher is expected to keep all children in their care safe with not a care for there own children and families. People should give teachers their respect just like NHS staff.

    • Teachers are doing their part. During the first lockdown, although schools were closed to most children, kids of key workers were still in school. And teachers had to throw all their teaching materials out of the window and prepare and deliver new stuff via Zoom or the internet.

    • you’re an utter b*llend if you think unions are a problem. The only people who think unions are an issue are those who see them as a block to their wish of exploiting a workforce.

  7. I’m sure the government would like to have their cake and eat it. Before Christmas they altered the plans they’d announced previously, and imposed draconian lockdown restrictions on whole swathes of the country. The justification for this was the discovery of a “new variant” of the virus which spreads more quickly than the old model. This was the cue for the usual suspects to pop up on our TV screens making doom-laden predictions and preaching solitary confinement. So, what possible justification could there be for reopening schools in January? Are sensible,rational people supposed to accept that the danger from this virus is so great that adults cannot be permitted to go outside, other than to obtain essential supplies, but that children can cram onto buses and mass in school playgrounds before literally thousands of them move indoors to crowded corridors and poorly ventilated classrooms? It’s an absolute nonsense. Either the “new variant” is a real threat or it isn’t. If it’s real, you can’t ignore the potential for school children to act as vectors for the disease.

  8. Lazy teaxchers are trying to avoid doing the work they are paid for . I suggest no school teaching – no pay. That will stop their incessant whinging.

    • It’s pointless to expect anything else from people so obviously ignorant but who feel entitled to vent their bile because they went to school. What will stop your incessant and inherent nastiness?

    • Could not agree more, all the teachers do is complain and complain. Everyone else has to go to work and be put at risk so why can’t they! Our kids are the future generation it’s about time they were put first during all of this! It’s impacting their mental health more than anything but that’s ignored constantly. Kids need stability and an education. They have been out of school for long enough.

      • Stability really go to school for two weeks than self isolate ( play in the town) for two weeks, back to school for 3 weeks than self isolate ( play in the town ) for 2 weeks. And so it goes on !

        This pandemic is out of control it went out of control the moment the kids went back , than we had another lockdown which was ignored by most, shops ‘open’ for click and collect or knock on the door 😉 Kids roaming around the town centres, people not wearing masks. The way the general public have behaved is disgusting and their dont care about putting the frontline works lifes at risk just so long as these selfish people can do what they want.

        Teachers have every right to be able to teach in a safe and protective environment as do all workers. Its just a high number of the public couldnt give to hoots about other people by refusing to wear masks et. Thanet must the highest number of asthma suffers in the world.

    • Our school was open all through apart from may holiday and summer, teachers were still doing class work for key worker and vulnerable kids besides remote learning for their classes and looking after their families. They are still preparing for remote learning
      . Sick of people having a go at teachers they are working bloody hard to keep your kids safe, they are not sat on their backsides furloughed getting paid for nothing.

    • That’s not true though. Many parents will confirm that their children received very little contact from their teachers during the lockdown. A few semi-relevant worksheets which weren’t marked does not constitute teaching. There are major question marks over how well, teaching from home was managed, or whether it was managed at all, in some schools.

      • One would hope that there’d been no contact at all!
        My personal experience is that teachers are exhausted. Not only have they had to provide “normal” lessons for those children still in school, but they’ve had to design, from scratch, on line versions of lessons. And, unlike in the classroom, if a child doesn’t log in to a Zoom session, or go onto a website and do a set of exercises, there’s not a lot the teacher can do about it.

      • really eggnogg, or has your kid been telling you porkies so they could get out of doing the work set for them? your subjective experience is not objective reality for those of us who work in education locally, but go off with your misinformed opinions.

  9. Do teachers think they are the only ones at risk of catching covid due to their job. Plenty of workers have been on the front line since day 1, not just NHS but delivery drivers and retail workers on a lot less money than the constantly whingeing teachers who are being backed by a union using a global pandemic as a political platform. We all need to stand up and do our part to help protect the NHS and if this means schools staying open to keep people working then so be it. Could you imagine if supermarket workers refused to work because they were at risk, the teachers would be up in arms that they couldn’t get an ocado delivery.

  10. I totally agree with the comments made by Eggnog. How can it be ok to send children back to school 2 weeks after we were told it was too dangerous to see our own families over Christmas. Apart from this new variant, what happens if the virus mutates again but this time is catastrophic to children. Do we have a right to play Russian Roulette with people’s lives.
    Nicky we are eternally grateful for all the NHS are doing to help Covid patients. You have stated the awful loses of staff working in that environment. For those very reasons we should consider whether opening schools fully again will increase the tradgedy and risk faced by NHS staff. None of us can know when or how this pandemic will stop, hopefully the vaccinations will be a game changer. In the meantime maybe we should be cautious on school returning, our children trust us to keep them safe, they have no voice.

  11. The one thing this pandemic is showing/causing is a split within the work forces of Britain.

    People working on the front line all frontline workers from your binmen to doctors and nurses, working without time to relax as such. Yet in the summer when frontline workers carried on millions of furlough workers went to crowded beaches etc enjoying a beautiful summer, ignoring the government guidelines and put the frontline workers in more danger.
    You have offices where some workers have been made to go into and some workers have been told to work from home. Those working from home brag about how much they have saved from not travelling when their colleagues have still gone into work risking catching covid19.

    Our bin are constantly slagged of on here yet they have kept most of our bins empty every week ( not talking about the fly tipping in certain streets that’s down to the people who live there ).
    The tips were closed because the tip staff were need to fill in for the bin crews who had covid19. What did people do moan about the tips being closed by the way private tips were still open !

    Now that’s moan about teachers both my parents were teachers and loved it , both worked very hard. Yes like any job you get a few ‘bad’ but on the whole they are all good hard working teachers. It’s no coincidence that the increase in cases started when the schools went back since than the pandemic has got out of control.

    What about the parents who allow their children to out about around the towns when they are meant to be self isolating ? But its easier to blame the schools isnt it.

    This country just likes to moan about everyone nowadays the industry I was in to a high level, which I coildnt wait to get out of after 30 because of the constant moaning. I know that my old industry is losing still so many highly trained people with a mass short fall of young blood to replace us. Why because of the constant moaning of golfers who cant play golf to save their lives but think they are brilliant.

    This country is now just made up of hard workers and people who just like to moan. Social media, FB etc gives these moaners a platform, the moaners dont need any evidence, just put it out there and moan.

    Well as someone who hasnt had a break this year due to helping out in the pandemic, I am tried of people moaning all I want is to go to work earn enough for a nice family holiday and get back to going to footy.

    I have met some fantastic people through this pandemic people who selfishly give up their spare time to help others.

    So that’s see if next year the moans can take 5 before launching into the garden workers that have kept Britain going.

    Happy new all

    • Well done. I fully agree with your post. People are very quick to moan about anything and everything, especially on the internet!

      As the majority of people had their children off of school, except key workers, whose kids went to school, I wonder what they did to help their kids education? Nothing for the majority I’d imagine.

      Teaching isn’t a particularly well paid job, it’s pretty much inline with construction but with more responsibility.

      It is sad that everyone pulled together for a few weeks and now things have gone back to normal. I’ve met some great people at work during the lock down and most people are positive – apart from on here.

    • yet, here you are, moaning about those who moan, like a good little hypocrite lacking self awareness. if you have an issue with people sharing opinions on here, why do you continue to read the comments instead of stopping at the bottom of the article?

  12. I feel one of the most helpful changes to be put in place is all children under the age of 16 should be accompanied by adult as way to many groups of young children wondering around like it is a big joke and before anyone says anything about there rights etc. This would be a short term suggestion until we can take back control and combat this virus. I work in supermarket and these youngsters act like we are the local sweet shop. Ironic I am put even more at risk so these children can buy there sweets and drinks etc

  13. I do agree with the comments above about “hard workers” Unlike the NHS and teaching professions, most of us don’t have a full-time PR campaign which ensures our griping and whinging features heavily on the BBC every day. I don’t think a day goes by without some representative of the NHS being interviewed on TV to complain about how tired they all are. However, I knowpeople who work for the NHS and have been working from home all year. I know people working for the NHS who’s workload has been miniscule because people haven’t been called for blood tests, check-ups and consultations. Meanwhile, workers in supermarkets have been dealing face to face with customers, hundreds every day. Did you see them on the news griping about being tired? Honestly, it makes me wonder how the country would cope if we had another war. The word resilience springs to mind.

  14. Eggnog

    That’s my point frontline workers come in all shape and size and all walks of life.

    You cant compare the pen pushers of the NHS with the frontline doctors and nurses.

    Some have worked from home and saved a fortune on train fares etc, others have gone into work putting themselves and their families in danger.

    This pandemic is in danger of splitting this country. I am tired of going to work knowing I might catch the virus, but my work cant be done from home, I have no choice.

    People just need to think before they start moaning about people, lots are nervous about going to work but they do. So when key board warriors starting kicking off its gets peoples backs up.

    I personally think our binmen have been fantastic clearly our bins etc, the pvt sector helped by letting their staff from the tips fill I the gaps in bin crews when they had covid19. What did the key board warriors do moan about the tips being shut when their staff were out working in bin crews. But dont let that stop a good moan, I am on furlough and am clearing out my garage which I have been meaning to do for the last ten years and the tips are closed. I dont the bins emptying I want the tip open because it’s all about me !.

    I dont think its unreasonable for workers who havent had a break for over 10 months now to feel abit knackered unlike those who had months of on the beach which was call furlough.

    And soare a thought for people that have lost their jobs, this country needs to pull together not be pulled apart

  15. By the looks of it, we need all the teaching we can get! This HYS is constantly awash with complaints and accusations about one group or another by those who don’t read what they have written.
    Yes, Teachers can be a bit precious and not all NHS staff are frontline or are that caring; most however are diligent and doing their bit.
    It is a worrying time for everyone. No one wants to die before their time and especially not in the manner of being virtually being put to sleep by Covid, alone, and in a strange, environment.
    The vaccination scheme needs ramping up with NHS and all caring staff given priority. The vaccinators should be inoculated. Once hospitals and care homes stop losing staff to Covid they might cope. Afterwards start with the 80’s + and work down, with those most at risk first, not alphabetically.
    Students should stay at home, till the spring or when mass vaccination really starts.
    Exam students should re-enter schools or there should be good quality remote learning available for all.
    Everyone else should be given really good distance learning with an adequate supply of lap tops etc. For those with poor or non existent internet, there should be well prepared internet community hubs, with Covid security. There should be a ‘national laptop’ built to a spec adequate for education and general use, but in the meantime there are loads of second hand laptops sculling around. Contact all the mobile phone shops and computer shops of all sizes and get them refurbing and guaranteeing, as many units, as they can deliver.
    Above all we need leadership and grip at a national level.

  16. I have not heard of any school staff complaining about their job, simply why keep primary schools open when the figures are worse now than in March I am in a class of 24 from 8am until 3pm,if I am lucky and they are picked up on time. We have break and lunch together, if a child is sent home unwell unless the parent gets them tested, and informs the school, we are left worrying if we will develop symptoms. Of course the NHS are heroes and deserve knighthoods in my opinion, without them does not bear thinking about. Let’s not argue amongst ourselves, life is too short.

  17. The problem with giving NHS staff and carers priority is numbers. The vaccine isn’t all available at the outset. There are 1.4 million people working for the NHS and another million carers in the UK. If you give them priority for the vaccine you are denying it to people who are more likely to die. In essence, people will die if you prioritise younger doctors, nurses and carers. That makes no sense when you’ve spent all year trying to “save lives.” The current roll-out criteria for the vaccine are correct. Unfortunately, some health authorities aren’t sticking to the criteria and have been inoculating office staff and other staff who have no contact with patients.

  18. Get a grip!! Everyone petrified and living in fear from a supposed virus which has never been isolated and to which has a 99.98% recovery rate anyway. Everyone crying out for an untested,un-tried vaccine which neither stops you getting the alleged virus or even stops you spreading it when they tell you you’ve got it with their flawed PCR test which has a massively high rate of false positives. If any of you still think that all this is about a virus then you really,really haven’t been paying attention and you’ve been obviously listening to the Mainstream Media and the corrupt Goverment far too much.
    Find alternative news outlets folks,Vernon Colman on Bitchute would be a good place to start.
    It’s time to wake up to the lies you’ve been fed.
    The only thing to fear is fear itself

  19. When I read the words”Mainstream Media” I reach for my rapidly decreasing reserves of patience and forbearance, for I know that I’m reading the postings of a conspiracy theorist.

    • ‘Conspiracy theorist’? Wow,do you really believe everything that the man on the TV tells you?
      It’s a shame that the people of this country and the world have become a race of cognitive resistance robots,unable,or maybe scared,to think for themselves,to seek out other truths or alternative points of view. Not everything is as it seems and never was.
      Conspiracy theorist-no. Truth seeker-yes.
      Agenda 21,Agenda 30,Rockafella Lockstep,The WEF-(‘by 2030 you will own nothing and you will be happy’),Claus Schwab,The Great Reset,Bill Gates’ depopulation agenda,The predicted SPARS pandemic 2025?,the list goes on and on.
      Everything we are witnessing is by design and has been in the planning for decades,it’s all out there,hiding in plain sight!
      2021 will be the year of The Great Awakening

      • Sometimes the newsreader is a woman. Actually, I hardly ever watch the news.

        Stop being so insulting to people in general..

  20. I have a question for you awakened soul, Margate hospital busy or packed? Short staffed and struggling or sitting around on their phones for the whole shift?

    • Sorry Adam,I have no idea but I’ll be popping over there to have a look very very soon. I know someone who lives nearly opposite the testing station on St Peters Road and he tells me it’s always empty,not overrun as you might be led to believe,much the same as the Manston testing centre.
      As for hospitals supposedly being under intense strain,here’s a video that might interest you and everyone else. Make your own minds up as to what’s real and what’s not real…

  21. If you belive it isn’t real and not as bad as the news is making out why not volunteer to work in the hospital on the covid wards as a hca and as its not real you won’t need ppe so would save some money. Im sure the staff in the hospital would love to have the help.

    • I never said it wasn’t real,I’m saying that all is not what the man on the telly tells you.
      Why is 99% of the population being told they must sacrifice their jobs, their businesses and their liberties in the name of making less than 1% of the population feel safer? Why not ask the 0.20% of the people under threat from the virus to volunteer to stay home so that the rest of us can get on with normal life? Why are we being told to do the opposite of what makes the most sense?
      It’s all about critical thinking,questioning the narrative put out by the goverment and MSM.
      What I find most disturbing is the people that mock people like me who ask questions rather than blindly following the instructions by people who were elected to look after our interests but instead are locking healthy people up for something that has a 99.98% recovery rate.
      In my book that’s tyranny. What sort of person has to get permission from another person to live their life. This is the new cult,the cult of Covid,the cult of fear,and if people can’t see it then,quite frankly,we and our children and our childrens children will be living in a dystopian future. Think 1984 and you’ll see where this is going.

  22. There is no “cult of Covid”. There is no”cult of fear”. I think “Awakened soul” doesn’t understand statistics.

    • And that’s what you took from my last comment Marva…I despair.
      Here’s a statistic for you…the official number of people under 60,with no underlying health conditions,who have died from or with Covid is 388. That’s right,you read that right…388!
      Search for yourself,it’s on the goverment website.
      I pray I’m wrong in everything that I’ve said for all our sakes but only time will tell.
      Namaste one and all and have a great 2021 🙏

  23. Despair as much as you like. Quote whatever stats you want. I still think there is no “cult of Covid” and no “cult of fear”. There is apandemic which might well have been stopped in the spring if governments had all acted with science at the forefront of their campaigns and if Britain-to be more specific- had had a government which was more concerned with the health of its citizens rather than that of big business.

  24. 388 people under the age of 60 died without any underlying health conditions. Thats the thing its not 1% of people who are at risk its all people. A 32 year old mother who worked at the hospital died due to covid and she had no underlying health conditions, she wasn’t part of the 1%. Locking up the 1% at high risk doesn’t help the 99% that “arent” at risk. If you honestly feel its not as bad as being played out offer to work at the hospital and help out. Offer to work on the wards that are understaffed. Ive been told 5 times over the last 2 months that my wife who works at the hospital has been told to lie to me about how busy her ward is and that all the wards are empty and staff are playing on their phones because their “friend” who works at the hospital has told them that. When I ask what their friend does its always they are a doctor. Ask for a name oh I cant give you that information they would get sacked for saying it. So on the grounds my wife is lying to me does that mean we should get divorced as I cant trust her to be honest with me?

  25. It appears to me the teachers unions have spend the last 9 months trying to get out of any teaching they possibly can, and now want to push their way to the front of the queue to get vaccinated as a special case. Everyone who has remained at work has risked their own and their families health, but we all need to put bread on the table. Why should a teacher be in front of a supermarket worker or a delivery driver, the police or firemen. Everyone can make themselves out to be a special case, don’t be so selfish and wait your turn as we all have too.

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