Brave Rugby Free Secondary pupil reveals the shocking abuse they received after testing positive for Covid-19

The support the pupil got from friends was 'amazing' - but some people, including adults, spread rumours and sent shocking abuse.

Tuesday, 24th March 2020, 1:31 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th March 2020, 1:33 pm
Rugby Free Secondary School. Photo: Learning Today Leading Tomorrow.

A brave pupil from Rugby Free Secondary School (RFSS) gave a presentation on the dangers of misinformation and rumours after recovering from Covid-19.

At the time the pupil and their family travelled to Italy there were no quarantine measures in place.

When they returned, the area they had been staying in was not under any measures.

After returning, the pupil and his father tested positive for the virus.

The family followed all precautions in line with the advice of Public Health England and self isolated as soon as there was any hint they might have the virus.

Despite this, the pupil was subject to spiteful remarks online that came after people spread rumours and misinformation.

During the presentation, the pupil told their classmates: "I only went on holiday and only thought I’d brought back pasta as a gift.

"It’s not nice being told you have a virus.

"Some of my friends have been amazing and they know who they are.

"Other people haven’t been so nice.

"This includes adults. Unfortunately things like Instagram etc. allows people to be mean and spread gossip which is mostly untrue.

"Anyone who has ever been bullied knows how it’s feels for people to say nasty things.

"It’s very hurtful. I hope no one else experiences what I’ve been through or my mum who has been so upset and it’s not nice seeing her upset either.”

"Rumours can be damaging, distressing and dangerous to individuals and their families.

"Every false rumour circulated devalues the extent to which social networking and the internet acts as an effective method of spreading true information.

"How do you know what is true and what is fake?"

The presentation was extensively researched, and in it the pupil addressed some of the mistruths being spread about the virus and those who have it.

Tom Legge, vice chair of the trust which runs the school, said he is very proud of the pupil.

He said: "I don't offer it up as official guidance (although it is very well researched and sourced) more as an insight into the thoughts and feelings of a child who has experienced coronavirus first hand and as an indication of the calibre of student we have at Rugby Free Secondary School."

Brenda Mullen, CEO of the trust, said: "The student was incredibly mature and created a presentation which every child in the school was taken through in tutor time at the start of the day of the student’s return.

"Samirah (the school's head teacher) told me that the presentation served to help other students understand some key messages and the myths about Covid-19 but also got them to think about the importance of being kind, which is one of the school’s key values.

"The presentation itself and its reach across the school is a great example of student empowerment and also an example of how adults can learn from students."