Wearing the dunce’s cap again: for Gavin Williamson, the reopening of schools at the height of the Covid crisis isn’t a hard decision – he does what he’s told to do by Boris Johnson. That’s why he has made a fool of himself – and why he is deliberately endangering your children and (if you are a parent) you.
Could anything better illustrate the weakness of Boris Johnson and his Conservative government?
They want to keep the UK’s economy going, despite having done everything possible to let Covid-19 rampage through the population while pretending to restrict it.
So they need to keep schools open, so parents don’t have an excuse to stay at home.
That’s why none of their restrictions/lockdowns since September have included schools.
They seemed ready to keep up this farcical charade into the New Year – even though Covid-19 infection rates have soared and schools are the most common vector – right up until January 1, days before the new school term was due to begin.
Then – at the very last minute once again, meaning parents’ plans have been thrown into chaos for no good reason – Education Secretary Gavin Williamson u-turned, signing off on a plan for all primary schools to remain closed for the time being…
For clarity, you need to be aware that secondary schools and colleges were already set to be closed to most pupils for the first two weeks of term, while primaries in 50 local authorities in London and southern England were also told to remain closed until January 18.
It was only after council leaders in 10 other London boroughs, where Covid transmission rates are high but schools were told to remain open, said they would defy the government and support closures that Williamson agreed to close them all.
He had been backed into a corner. Whatever he did would have led to humiliation so he chose the option that would not result in open defiance.
But his decision only covers those 60 local authority areas in London and the south, prompting education unions – most prominently the National Education Union – to ask:
Why are are children and parents in the rest of England being left vulnerable to Covid?
The National Education Union’s joint general secretary, Mary Bousted, has called on the government to close schools across that country (remember: education is a devolved responsibility so the governments of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland choose whether their schools will open or not).
According to the BBC,
In Wales, there will be “flexibility” at the beginning of term, with teaching due to start in most places from 4 January. Schools are expected to offer face-to-face learning for most pupils by 11 January, with a full return by 18 January.
In Northern Ireland, primary school pupils will be taught online until 11 January. In secondary schools, years 8 to 11 will be taught online throughout January. Years 12 to 14 will return to school after the first week of January.
In Scotland, the Christmas holidays have been extended to 11 January, and the following week will be online learning only. A full return to face-to-face learning is planned for 18 January.
Dr Bousted pointed out that it is impossible to stop children from mixing with each other in large numbers and if just one has the virus, then they all may catch it and transmit it to their families – and out into the community:
She added, on Andrew Castle’s LBC radio talk show, that teachers have a legal right to refuse to work if they think opening schools will create a health risk:
For Gavin Williamson, the situation has now become extremely precarious:
Will Williamson cave in again, or will he stand accused of condemning thousands to catch the virus when the NHS cannot take the strain and fatalities are rising?
And what will happen to Boris Johnson’s precious economy if this irrational stubbornness over schools creates knock-on havoc in business and industry?
Whatever happens, responsibility for the result will lie entirely with Johnson and his Conservative government. But we, the people, will pay the price.
Source: All primary schools in London to remain closed after U-turn | Schools | The Guardian
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