Parent Disputes Over Covid-19 Testing in Schools

Author:
Lorraine Harvey
Partner, Family Law
Date:
21/04/2021

When schools opened back up, many parents breathed a sigh of relief, but the fact that children had to have regular Covid tests raised some concerns among parents.

At first, children were tested in school, but now your child should be sent home-testing kits and the Department for Education asks that your child be tested twice a week. Many parents were unhappy with this, as the responsibility has now been put on you, as your child’s parent, where it was originally on the school.

And parents were even more confused when HM Government advised facemask wearing for secondary school pupils, but didn’t make it mandatory. This left both parents and schools with unanswered questions.

As it’s now been over a month since children returned to schools, most families are likely in more of a routine with regular testing. But what if you and your child’s other parent are separated?

If you’re separated, we understand if testing and facemasks in school has caused disagreements between the two of you. For example, if one of you insists that your child wears a facemask and stays on top of testing but the other parent doesn’t want your child to be tested, it will understandably cause friction in your family.

What if I Don’t Agree with My Child’s Other Parent?

In the first instance, you should always try and come to an agreement between yourselves. When settling family disputes around your child and coronavirus you should:

  • Be realistic - If your child’s other parent doesn’t want your child to wear a facemask or take tests you should explain to them that it is the Government and school’s advice, not your own. It’s important to know that your child’s wellbeing will always be the first priority of the Family Court or any mediator you use, so it’s likely they will agree that your child should take regular tests and wear a facemask if you decide to take your dispute further.
  • Put your child’s best interests first - Wearing a facemask and regular testing will only reduce the chances of your child getting coronavirus, so remind your child’s other parent that they need to put your child’s best interests before anything else.
  • Remember that it’s temporary - Since vaccines have been rolled out, the Government have been optimistic about the easing of coronavirus restrictions this summer. So there’s a strong chance that by 17th May your child may not need to take regular tests or wear a facemask to school anymore. This means you may be arguing over something that is just a temporary safety measure, and the best option might just be to agree to disagree for now.
  • Speak to your child - Only secondary school children are required to wear a facemask and take tests for school. This means your child is of an age where you can have important conversations with them. Ask them how they feel about tests and wearing facemasks, and reassure them that it is their choice to make.
  • Get professional help - It might be the case that your disagreements about Covid testing and facemasks are a part of a larger argument, as we often see this is the case with disputing families. And as many families had to make temporary changes to their child care arrangements in the last year, it’s understandable if this has brought up some issues for your family. If you’re having disagreements about your child and you can’t see eye to eye, you could get help from a mediator or get legal advice from a Family Law Solicitor.

Our Family Law Solicitors are experts at resolving conflict between disputing parents, and we find that having the input of a third party professional helps parents to see things clearly and come to an agreement that works for the whole family.

We know that the pandemic has been a difficult time for separated families and we hope that as things ease, we will see more families reaching agreements sooner and with less stress involved.

For initial legal advice call our Family Law and Divorce Solicitors

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