UK teachers in China speak out about coronavirus plight

Teachers say they do not plan to leave the country, with one teacher saying advice to leave is 'all well and good' but that it is not 'possible' to leave quickly

Catherine Lough


UK teachers living in China have spoken out about the outbreak of coronavirus – with one teacher critical of British government advice to leave the mainland, while others say life in the country continues "as normal".

This week, Tes revealed that British teachers who have returned from China to the UK were having to teach online overnight in order to keep up with timetabled lesson hours in China, as well as being unable to access their pay.

News: UK teachers fleeing coronavirus must work all night

Related: 'Coronavirus has closed our school for a month'

Background: Boarding schools warned over coronavirus xenophobia

Latest figures show the death toll from the virus has risen to 565, with the number of confirmed cases rising to 28,273.

On Tuesday, the Foreign Office urged all British nationals to leave China if they can, although health secretary Matt Hancock previously said there were "no plans to evacuate all remaining UK nationals".

One teacher working in China condemned the advice as being unrealistic.

Deanna Holroyd, 25, an English teacher from West Yorkshire, said: "It's all well and good the UK government urging us all to leave but it's not possible to leave quickly.

"I have an apartment I have to find a sub-leaser for, I have to take all my money out of my Chinese bank account and close it, and I have to pack all my life up.

"When I found out about the UK government travel advice, I was on an island in Thailand with only a hand luggage suitcase full of belongings.

"Everything else I own is in Shanghai and I'm just supposed to not go back? I'm taking the risk of going back and staying on house arrest in Shanghai."

Life as normal

Another teacher, from Manchester, said life largely continues as normal in China.

Christopher Valentine, 26, said: "I was in the UK for two weeks – I saw things were slowly getting worse here in China but I always knew I wanted to return regardless.

"I have a routine here, many friendships, and this is where my employer is.

"I was given a temperature check outside the entrance to my complex yesterday. I was also checked on the highway coming back from Shanghai airport as we approached Suzhou.

"The first reading was higher than expected so we drove to a small area off the road. After it was taken again we were allowed through."

The 26-year-old, now living in Suzhou, met friends for dinner in a restaurant yesterday: "We were not asked to wear masks, but the tables were sterilised before and after our meals."

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author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

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