A SCHOOLGIRL who is shielding at home because of a rare medical condition has spoken to the Reporter about her concern that she won't be able to go back to school.

Harper Mitchell-Hyslop, 9, has a rare condition called Children's Interstitial Lung Disease which meant she was instructed to shield when the country went into lockdown.

Since then she has been home schooled and enjoyed time at home with her mum and dad, Jodie and John, and her new baby sister, Quincy-Faye, who was born in March.

The nine-year-old said she has missed seeing her friends and teachers at Christie Park Primary in Alexandria, and is concerned she will miss out as she is yet to find out when she will be allowed to return to the classroom at Christie Park Primary school.

She said: “I don't like lockdown as I miss my friends and family, but I understand why I am shielding and the life's that have been lost due to the virus.

“I am not really missing school, as I am doing my work at home. I don’t like home schooling because I can be in the middle of an activity and we are given another one at the same time – I think this would be different in school.

“I would like to say thank you to my teacher Mrs Adams and Mr Smith, because they have been helping me with my work.

“It doesn't feel right being at home when my friends are at school, because I am not returning to school at the same time to start the new term.

“I feel that I am going to miss out on learning new things, and I am not going to see my friends until I am allowed back to school."

Harper understands that her condition puts her at greater risk of coronavirus having a devastating impact on her health.

Her mum is concerned Harper will not receive the same support as the rest of her class, since teachers will need to prioritise in-class learning.

Jodie said: “Shielding has been difficult for Harper. I presume this is also the case for other children who have shielded, as children need to interact with their peers and it can be very isolating and distressing.

“There are times Harper has become emotional and asked if everything can just go back to normal and we can see everyone.

“I do feel that Harper would have been more productive and learned more if she was in school.

"Returning for the new term is still uncertain and there is still no clear schooling model or guidance identified for children who are shielding.

“This causes great concern for us and other parents with regards to their children’s education.

“Whatever model of schooling Harper and other children shielding are faced with in August, the right to an education is imperative, and this has to be done equally, ensuring that this is inclusive and meets their educational and emotional needs.

“When deciding the schooling model, the government have to consider the wider long term implications for the family and the child, such as employment, child care and support networks as shielding parents are now at a huge disadvantage in the workplace.”

Harper will now wait until July 31 to learn what the next steps are for people who are shielding.

A West Dunbartonshire Council spokesperson said: "We are committed to delivering high quality education to all our young people, including those pupils who are shielding and may be unable to physically return to school in August.

"Plans are already in place for these pupils, and will be tailored to meet the individual needs of each pupil, with the emphasis on their safety and wellbeing being our priority.

"Any pupil who is required to remain at home due to an ongoing health condition will receive the same work and support as their peers who are being educated in school.

"This will including regular contact from their school, access to campus@wdc and online lessons in Google Classroom and home learning packs. 

"Pupils' work will be monitored throughout the shielding period to ensure no pupil is at a disadvantage due to their circumstances."