A CORK teenager is making huge sacrifices to protect his mother during the Covid-19 pandemic, separating himself from his classmates and teammates.
Andrew Pasley, 15, from Cobh, knew that returning to school could endanger his mother, Melissa, because of her severe asthma. The family is now shielding until human contact is safe, meaning Andrew is homeschooling instead of returning to St Francis College, Rochestown, last September.
The family only get outside for walks and essential tasks. Andrew also enjoys sailing with his older brother, Conor, during the pandemic.
However, the hardest part for him was giving up his main passion, rugby. Andrew has been playing the sport since he was three and described the heartbreak that came with losing it to the pandemic.
“Hearing that I wouldn’t be able to play rugby anymore was the toughest part for me,” he said. “I love rugby, but I wasn’t going to risk everything for it. I made the choice, because I wanted to stay home and protect my parents.”
Andrew said he is looking forward to returning to school, and to rugby training, when a vaccine becomes available.
“Going back will be like starting rugby all over again and that’s something I’m really looking forward to,” Andrew said
Andrew receives work from his school, which he completes throughout the day.
“I get work from the teachers at my school. After lunch, I do project work. My hope for next year is to enter the BT Young Scientist Exhibition.”
In the meantime, Andrew is advising other teenagers to obey the restrictions.
“Some people my age are going out and living their normal lives,” Andrew said. “When they tell me that they are going out, I ask them why, but I don’t go any further than that. It’s hard to see people my age ignoring advice, but I don’t want to start a fight, either.”
Andrew’s father, Robert, said he is extremely proud of Andrew’s maturity since starting homeschooling.
“Seeing Andrew get on board so willingly made everything that bit easier,” Robert said. “I’m very proud of him. He’s been amazing right through all the madness. Knowing that he would have to give up rugby was the hardest part, because he has been playing since he was three and a half. I was a referee and a coach myself, so this is something that is in his blood.”
Andrew even started his own mini-company, selling baked treats to neighbours.
“We’re trying to give him a little bit of the transition-year experience at home, in whatever way we can,” Robert said. “Andrew never did Home Ec in school and cooking and baking is something he’s become really good at. Himself and Conor baked homemade cookies and sold them to neighbours who were getting ready to watch the Late Late Toy Show.”
Robert praised the Home Education Network for navigating them through such a difficult period.
“A new cohort of homeschoolers has emerged since the pandemic,” he said. “We would be considered the Covid homeschoolers. There are so many other people in the same boat, who are experiencing the same challenges. It’s good to bounce ideas off each other through Zoom calls.”
The family is preparing for a very different Christmas this year.
“The most difficult part is that Andrew’s older sister, Chloe, is in Scotland and won’t be able to make it home for Christmas,” Robert said. “It means we won’t have seen her since 2019. We have looked into quarantining options, in the hope that she could have made it home, but, logistically, this proved too complicated. All we can do is wait until the vaccine becomes available. When it is, we will be the first in the queue.”
- To find out more about homeschooling, visit henireland.orghenireland.org/what-is-home-education