PARENTS around Monmouthshire have shared their concerns and challenges after schools were closed due to the coronavirus threat

With schools only open for key workers, most parents find themselves at home playing teacher as well as parent, while some who are key workers wrestle with the uncertainty of potentially bringing the virus home to their children.

Shelley Herniman, from Bulwark, Chepstow, whose 14-year-old son Noah suffers from a genetic disorder that causes tumours to grow along the nerves, says she is “constantly worrying” about catching the virus and passing it to her son.

“As me and my husband are key workers, we both have to go to work and come back to Noah, who already has a depleted immune system,” she said.

“Luckily now it’s not too bad because my husband is at home, as he has asthma, but once he is back in work I will be concerned.”

South Wales Argus:

Noah Herniman has started his own history project on people and coronavirus

Another worry for parents is how long the school closures will last.

“I was relieved when the schools closed, but if it goes on well after Easter it will mean education is significantly compromised,” Mrs Herniman added.

For now, Noah is sticking to a “rigid plan”, including waking up with online workouts with Joe Wicks, followed by a day of academic work.

Noah is also using his time to put together a project. “He’s asked residents to write their own diary entries on coronavirus,” Mrs Herniman explained.

“He wants to collect all the entries and send them to Chepstow Museum when it’s all over.”

Dawn Lewis, who has three children, and whose husband Neil runs a busy butcher's shop in Usk, says the challenge of playing “mum, dad and teacher” is a tough one.

“Neil’s been working from 4.30am until 10pm most days,” Mrs Lewis said.


“It’s not a nice time because the kids haven’t seen dad for a week.

“I’m trying to normalise the day as much as possible. The iPad goes away when it’s work time and we do home-schooling, but it isn’t easy.

South Wales Argus:

Dawn Lewis and her daughter on their first day of home-schooling on Monday

“I find homework challenging, let alone home-schooling. If I wanted to be a teacher I’d have applied,” she laughed.

“I’m not putting too much pressure on them or myself, we’re just doing the best we can.”

Sally Jones, from Abergavenny, has set up a tent in the back garden to give her children some escapism.

“Every day we wake up and make decisions on what we will do,” she said.

“Today is camping in the garden.

South Wales Argus:

Sally Jones set up the tent in the back garden for her son

“We have tough times ahead, but we need to try and keep our kids and ourselves safe, as well as getting a balance with normality,” she said.

“I want to keep their minds off the horror all around us.

“The school has been amazing and send work daily.”

All schools in the county have established home learning packages for children, while children of key workers can attend the following schools:

  • Deri View Primary, Abergavenny
  • Llanfoist Primary, Abergavenny
  • Dewstow Primary, Caldicot
  • Rogiet Primary, near Caldicot
  • Pembroke Primary, Chepstow
  • Thornwell Primary, Chepstow
  • Overmonnow Primary, Monmmouth
  • Kymin View Primary, Monmouth
  • Raglan Primary

Councillor Richard John, Executive Member for Children and Young People and Monlife, said: “I am grateful for the work that is taking place across Monmouthshire to support children of key workers and our vulnerable learners.

"These are exceptional times and the way in which we do this will change and develop in the coming days, but we are committed to providing this support in a resilient and sustainable way.”