Vectors of transmission or not?

teacher, learning, school

Unsurprisingly the government has yet again ignored Scientific advice. Educational establishments are being neglected as is usual. Where has the caution gone?

SAGE the government’s scientific advisory group told them that a phased return not dissimilar to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would be prudent. The government and opposition, in their infinite wisdom have again ignored advisers. The minutes from the meeting state that the R rate could increase by 50% if schools reopened.  Added to this is the fact that The Office for National Statistics found evidence that teachers were more likely than nine other professional groups to test positive for Covid-19 in the period between 1 September 2020 and 7 January 2021, putting them “at the upper end of the continuum”.

Educational establishments are ok to open fully as of March 8th. Is that because COVID is repelled from a place named as a school, academy, college etc? If this is the case then hairdressers should be renamed hair academies, local pubs could be known as the King’s Head College. Obviously, education establishments have some sort of immunity because of their names so the way forward must be to encourage other businesses to be more like schools.

Maybe they could place backing tracks of playground noise, perhaps they could rephrase their conversations- hairdressers could ask ‘Do you remember what we did last time? Can you explain the process to your partner?’ The local bartender could ask clients ‘What the arguments for or against a certain drink might be? Or whether they could make a better choice and give an explanation about why it would be better.’

Ridiculous?! These scenarios are based on a complete lack of logic and are completely nonsensical– but it is essentially the message given by the government in regards to the March 8th opening.  They are no longer ‘vectors of transmission’ that we were told back in January.

We all want children back in school, we know that absence from the classroom can affect their mental well being and learning. However, just because they have not been in school does not mean they will have fallen behind- that in my opinion is a naïve, uneducated view. Bearing in mind it is proven that home-schooled children are likely to do just as well if not better in formal tests than those who went to school. As a teacher and parent- I want to have my pupils back in school BUT only when it is safe- until every adult has been vaccinated parents should have the right to keep their child at home-attendance should not be compulsory.

To return to school safely there is much that should be done- all teachers, support staff, and other school/college employees should be vaccinated (this could have been started and even finished in the February half-term!) School’s should have been given funding for ‘Nightingale’ classes- so that class sizes could be reduced and there should have been checks on school buildings and ventilation issues. It seems the government has done little in the last two months and has not learned from past mistakes.

Why the sudden rush? Yes, start getting exam students back in and some primary BUT why just for three weeks get other year groups back? According, to the NEU COVID cases now are three times higher than in September and new variants are increasing risks.

“This fact, alone, should have induced caution rather than, in the words of [vaccines minister] Nadhim Zahawi, an ‘ambitious’ school return which runs the risk of schools, once again, becoming, in the prime minister’s words on 4 January, a ‘vector of transmission’ into the community. This risk is greatly elevated because of the new variants of Covid, which spreads more easily through the population.

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