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Tuesday, 29 December 2020

Covid-19 - What About The Children?

Yesterday brought a new high in the number of those testing positive for Covid-19 across the UK, at 41,385. And with the R-rate running at an estimated 1.1 to 1.3 - in other words, the situation is getting worse - the NHS is in danger of becoming overwhelmed by new admissions. It is against this backdrop that SAGE has made its latest recommendation.

Despite Michael “Oiky” Gove touring the studios earlier this week and reassuring anyone who put the question that schools would - or maybe that was should - reopen on Monday next week, the worsening rates of positive tests and hospital admissions suggest that, in the case of secondary schools at least, it might not happen. Not until February.

As the HuffPost has reported, “Michael Gove has said the government hopes the staggered reopening of schools in England will go ahead as planned, despite reports that scientists have recommended they should all be closed to prevent coronavirus infections surging … The Cabinet Office minister said he was confident primary school pupils and Year 11 and Year 13 pupils in England would be able to return in the first week of January, with the rest going back later in the month”. He hopes. Which means it may not happen.

There was more. “The commitment comes as it was reported the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has recommended all secondary schools remain closed in January. According to Politico, the body advised that the R rate might be kept below 1 if schools stay closed in January and that closing secondary schools would have a bigger impact than shutting primary schools”. The Government is now considering what to do.

This has now been picked up on by the national part of our free and fearless press. Under the headline “Covid surge triggers split over school restart plan”, the Guardian notes that some in Government are taking the same side as teaching unions, that Education Secretary Gavin “Stupid Boy” Williamson is “fighting a rearguard action” to reopen schools, and that the number being treated for Covid-19 in hospital has passed last April’s peak.

The Murdoch Times has also made the story its lead item, telling “PM under pressure to delay school reopenings … Daily Covid cases exceed 40,000 for the first time”. So who would care to shower its readership with spite and dishonesty? Yes, it’s the Daily Mail, thundering “DON’T BETRAY OUR CHILDREN … Fury as schools poised to shut until February”. The inmates of the Northcliffe House bunker say the Army is coming!

Next term is already being postponed by a week for most secondary pupils to allow for coronavirus testing. But teaching unions and scientific advisers are seeking at least an extra fortnight's delay [Boo unions! Boo experts!] in the face of a surge in infections. But the MoD will now draft in the personnel to form local response teams [Yay Army!]”.

While the tendency to prevarication of alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is not helpful - and, indeed, potentially deadly in itself - the constant attacks from the press, selectively quoting anyone they can find to stand up headlines already written, is at best unhelpful and at worst pouring yet more fuel on the denialist bonfire.

Secondary schools may have to remain closed next month. And the idea that SAGE, or anyone else, isn’t thinking of the children, is just another malicious pack of lies. We are living through difficult and indeed deadly times. Maybe stop making things worse, eh?

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rob said...

They should spend more time on protecting the kids as they learn either at home (and provide support for the parents) or at school (with appropriate social distancing measures taken). We have this problem because the Government is reactive rather than proactive which is hopeless in dealing with a pandemic when infections can be spread some time before the symptons become apparent.

The Government have had several months to sort this out but don't seem to learn from their own or other countries experience. Possibly still on the herd immunity kick?

Then there are MPs like Lucy Allan using information to mislead like the Qanon or Oan conspiracy theorists do in the USA. They do seem to like to cause as much chaos or confusion as possible. Bannonites?

Anonymous said...

"And the idea that SAGE, or anyone else, isn’t thinking of the children, is just another malicious pack of lies."

Wasn't Cummings a member of Sage? And in any case why should the possession of a science degree (ignoring the fact that a fair few are only qualified in nudge science, data science or psychology) make anyone a saint? Would it surprise anyone that hand picked Tory advisers have a tendency to be drug company directors and shareholders?

Anonymous said...

Imagine being a 12 yr old kid. What is going to be more traumatic?

a) An extra month off being stuck at home in the winter playing Spiderman on the Playstation, doing zoom school work and moaning about having a shorter summer holiday.


b) Going to a military-occupied school where long-suffering Army personnel spend their days shoving things up your nose and making you gag. Oh, and if the tests are positive you're going to be stuck at home playing Spiderman anyway while worrying about how many teachers you've infected.

Unknown said...


c) Either of the above two cases but Gove & Vine are your parents.