Last Tuesday started off as a quiet day, I had nothing urgent to do except pop to the shops to get some mushrooms for that evening’s dinner. I spent a nice couple of hours getting more education (lying on the couch watching Discovery and National Geographic).
About 1pm I wandered across to the computer to see if anything was happening and noticed an email from my son’s school in England. Boom! Coronavirus effect had happened. Although no one at the school had yet tested positive for it and the school was still open they had decided to close the boarding house with immediate effect. The reason given was that if one of the children or masters were to test positive they would have to isolate the whole house which could run over into the Easter holidays, so they decided to send all the children home before that happened.
Now I have got to try and arrange to get our son out of there by the next day, but where to go? The first thought was bringing him home to Bahrain so we asked a couple of friends who had just come back from the UK what happened at the airport. All passengers are tested and if negative allowed to go home but must self-isolate for 14 days, OK that would not be a problem as it is difficult to get him out of bed on a good day, but, if he tested positive he would be taken to an isolation camp in Sitra and held in solitary conditions until he was recovered for at least 14 days.
We could not take the chance of our 16-year-old son being subjected to that so Bahrain was out of contention. The only other option was that he go and stay with his big sister in Scotland and to be honest both of them were delighted at the prospect of four to six weeks together and she would ensure he did plenty of revision for his upcoming GCSE’s (if they happen).
I arranged for him to share a taxi with two other kids to Heathrow and booked him a flight to Edinburgh but then my daughter told me she was not happy with him going on public transport as she had her own two-year-old daughter and her husband’s 70-year-old parents to consider if he caught the virus. Next plan, she would hire a car (well I would hire a car for her) and she would drive to the school and pick him up a return trip of about 1500km and she was ready to go immediately and drive through the night. I was the one not happy with that plan.
Finally, and I say this with the hope it does not change, we decided on a suitable compromise. My daughter would have a good night’s sleep at home and drive down in the morning. In the meantime, a family friend who lives in Somerset about 100km from the school would drive there and collect our son and take him to his house. The daughter would drive to his house, stay overnight and then, fully rested, would drive back to Scotland on Thursday. As I write this she has just set out and I do hope it all goes according to plan. Tuesday was quite hectic and I am glad we have instantaneous communications. I really deserved my refreshment.
Once they have reached her home then we do not know for how long he will have to stay there. School is due to start on April 20, but at this stage no one knows if that will be possible. It is a worry since as mentioned above, he sits his GCSE’s in May and June and these are critical exams for his whole future.
However, we are not the only family affected and to be honest our concerns are minimal compared with some. But just because we are sitting in Bahrain quietly congratulating the government for taking the correct steps to minimise the impact here, it does not mean we are not affected somehow. Chaos rules at the moment and when it has all shaken out the world will be a different place. Keep safe everybody but don’t panic.