As the lockdown restrictions implemented by the Government for COVID-19 are being incrementally eased and people are required to head back to work, there is now increased worry and anxiety among parents, especially single parents who have no alternative support for their children, who will be out of school until September.
The situation may become grave for some with Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus yet to finalise and approve the pandemic leave which she proposed in March.
In a WhatsApp response to Guardian Media’s question on its approval status last week, Baptiste-Primus wrote, “The Cabinet has not yet approved the workplace guidelines, which are still engaging the attention of the Finance and General Purpose Committee. As a consequence, I am not in a position to pronounce on this most important matter.”
The reality for some parents, therefore, is that they do not know how they will take care of their children until September once the country is fully reopened. Some parents shared their challenges with Guardian Media via a social media poll we conducted.
One mother said as an essential worker she had been experiencing uneasiness since schools were closed in March.
“My mother is not well and she has some age too and I cannot stay home. Right now she has been looking after my two children who are minors since their schools closed. I worry a lot while I am at work because what if something happens to her?” the mother, who did not want to be identified, asked.
Another single parent said she has had no other choice but to leave her children, who are minors, at home alone until she gets home from work.
Addressing her unique situation meanwhile, Lyra Thompson-Hollingsworth said, “I have some support from my mother but three children under ten (two autistic) is a bit of a handful for a senior citizen.”
Some parents also say with the July/August vacation around the corner, there will be increasing tension due to the unavailability of childcare facilities which may still be closed or have less space due to physical distancing protocols they will have to implement for COVID-19.
But the lengthy school closure does not only have an adverse effect on parents.
Pre-school and daycare owners, as well as those who provide transportation for school children for a living, will also have to make drastic changes. Some of them told Guardian Media they will take another financial hit to make these changes and some are now even forced to look to other means of revenue or make career changes.