In September 2021 I was so relieved for my son to go back to school for face-to-face lessons. He didn’t work so well during lockdown. He refused to participate in the online lessons – he said they were boring and he also couldn’t get up early enough.
About a month in, things were going well and he was really happy and upbeat getting back to a normal routine. However, things went downhill when he got into a fight with some other boys.
There had been a build up to the incident where I learnt that the kids had been calling him ‘covid’ as a nickname in school. This was witnessed by one of his friends.
It was on a Thursday (the last day of term) when the incident happened. This was a factor in the case as we could not get hold of the school to get any help at all.
On that day there had been a bit of pushing and shoving during the lunch hour where my son was shoved into a bush. One of the boys took it upon himself to escalate the incident further.
It was a half-day and the kids were dismissed after lunch. My son was one of the last boys to be dismissed (they let them out in dribs and drabs). He left school alone only to be surrounded by a group of boys waiting for him at the bottom of the hill. He was then assaulted yards away from the school. I’m told the boy was much bigger than my son and he punched him very hard on the left side of his face.
A punch to the face left my son really, really ill. Two years earlier he had been diagnosed with the condition called Hemiplegic migraine (which can be brought on by trauma to the head). It was never confirmed until that punch to the head a sunny October afternoon. X lost his eye sight, verbal communication and very quickly went into an encephalopathic state. His headache was so painful, he vomited every 2 hours for a week. He was not able to keep food or water down. He needed to be hospitalised immediately.
This was still at the height of COVID restrictions. No visitors were allowed on the wards and only one parent could be with him. I nursed him 24-7 in hospital, and slept 2 hours per day. My partner and I took it in turns to be with him in hospital. His words did not come to him, they were very limited and we made a dictionary of our own, to help him with his most basic needs. After about 5 days in our local hospital, he was moved to a children’s hospital under the care of the neurology department. He had in total 3 CAT scans, 2 EEG scans and lots of fluids and lots of sleep. After about 2 weeks he was discharged from the hospital.
The school would not even consider that the incident was of a racial nature. But during the investigation, the boy who assaulted my son accused him of racist abuse.
We could not get any information about what happened from the school until the new term – nor did they act on or intervene in the incident. The school said it took place off the premises and that it was technically during half-term, a school holiday.
I have reams of e-mail correspondence with the school and even when I complained they refused to acknowledge or even investigate the racial nature of the taunting that took place relating to the COVID outbreak.
We had a whole year of racist rhetoric in the media from the United States, with Trump constantly referring to Covid as ‘The Chinese Corona Virus’, the BBC repeating this at peak hours in the news on the TV & radio. It was a really unnerving atmosphere, and so was echoed in the school playground.
We just had to let it go. Our priority was our son’s health and we had to focus on him and not fight with the school. His recovery took 3 months, and he is totally back to his normal self and a happy active teenager.