A devastated father whose five-year-old daughter is in intensive care after contracting Kawasaki disease just weeks after recovering from coronavirus has hit out at government plans to reopen schools.
Teacher Piers Roberts said his family had been “broken” after daughter Scarlett suddenly fell ill again and was rushed to hospital suffering from organ failure.
He said Scarlett, who contracted coronavirus in school before the lockdown, had recovered and had been “fit and well” for six weeks before becoming seriously ill again.
Scarlett’s family have shared her condition on social media, saying it was important to highlight what they called the “unconscionable risk” taken by the government by deciding to reopen schools from 1 June, accusing them of using children as “guinea pigs” and turning schools into “death camps”.
The family’s concerns come as Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove defended the government’s plans to begin reopening primary schools in England from next month, saying measures were being put in place to ensure the safety of children and teachers as they returned.
Roberts’s aunt shared a picture of five-year-old Scarlett in hospital alongside a series of tweets outlining her condition.
She said: “My nephew wants to get back to full time face-to-face teaching as soon as possible. But using his daughter and those like her as guinea pigs is an unconscionable risk and one we cannot take while so little is known about the illness that felled her.
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“This is my five-year-old great-niece. She was fit and healthy until a mild bout of COVID-19 five weeks ago from which she appeared to recover. She is now in ICU with a Kawasaki inflammatory response. She is off the ventilator but has developed heart problems.”
She said Scarlett’s parents – a doctor and a teacher – wanted to share their experience as they believe schools will be “the next frontline” in the coronavirus crisis.
“My nephew and his wife want the UK to know they are appalled at proposals to bring back to school full year groups on 1st June,” she wrote.
“They expect, as do the teaching and medical unions, more cases like that of their daughter if the government persists in this plan.”
Roberts, from Wakefield, West Yorkshire, has also hit out at the government on social media, penning an open letter to education secretary Gavin Williamson.
He said: “Schools may well be labelled as death camps in time and instead of PPE you could consider providing teachers with some form of commandant uniform as your exit strategy is to blame whatever public group you can – I suppose that way we would at least appear to ‘know our duty’.
“Please continue to scapegoat us. Please continue to keep your party line amidst intentional ignoring of emerging science.
“If your boss is going to label a global pandemic as a ‘war’ and you want to effectively put our young people in perilous danger (now very much evidence based) whilst vilifying our profession, then that is a war crime right there and a human rights catastrophe.”