Tag Archives: reopen

No vaccination for teachers before schools go back – because it’s too much like hard work

The government has said it will not prioritise teachers (or police officers) in the next phase of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout because it will involve doing some work.

The government has been under pressure to give priority in phase two to key workers, such as teachers or police officers, irrespective of their age.

But the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has stated it is better to stick to vaccination in order of age groups (oldest to youngest).

The JCVI said targeting occupational groups by going through employee lists would be more complex to deliver than simply running through a list of age groups.

It said this could slow down the vaccine programme, leaving some more vulnerable people, at higher risk unvaccinated for longer.

If schools go back, who will be more vulnerable than teachers? The really high risk groups have already had their jabs.

Bizarrely,

Professor Wei Shen Lim, the Covid chair for the JCVI, said the the goal of vaccinations was to stop people from dying.

We’ll see how that looks a few weeks after schools reopen on March 8, shall we?

It seems incredible, that pupils, parents and teachers will all be put at risk – not to mention all their families, friends and colleagues – because the people behind the vaccination programme can’t be bothered to compile the necessary lists.

Source: Under-50s Will Be Vaccinated Based On Age Not Occupation | HuffPost UK

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Schoolkids know the score: reopening all schools in England will infect the nation with Covid-19

“Perfectly safe”: this photo was taken on a school staircase after Boris Johnson ruled that it was “perfectly safe” for children to go back there in September – no social distancing, no PPE… not safe at all. Now he is planning to do it all again, with infection rates nearly seven times higher than when this image was made.

Boris Johnson loves announcing big plans without giving us the facts and figures behind them, and he has done it again with school reopening.

How humiliating for him that it has been up to school pupil Jamal Elaheebocus to explain that when schools were recklessly reopened in June last year, one in 1,100 people were infected with Covid-19. When they were recklessly reopened in September, this had fallen to one in 2,000.

In mid-February, the infection rate was one in 115 people. It is hoped this will have fallen to one in 300 but that is nearly seven times more than in September last year – and look how that turned out!

Jamal reminds us of a few more uncomfortable truths:

the prevalence of the virus in communities remains high. As Johnson himself admitted on January 4, schools are vectors of transmission.

To any of us working or studying in schools, the reasons why schools are hotspots for infection are obvious.

Fitting thirty students and a teacher in a classroom makes social distancing impossible, overcrowded buildings means that several year groups who are separate bubbles then mix together.

Students are then packed on buses and trains to get home, spreading infection not only among themselves but among the wider public as well.

The latest data from Imperial’s React programme showed that 5 to 12 year olds had the second highest infection rate of any age group. Given this, there is no doubt that schools will increase the infection rate again. The difference this time is that infection rates will be much higher.

While the vaccine may help limit the rise in infection to an extent, infection rates will undoubtedly increase. This is a reckless gamble just to get children into schools for three weeks before Easter holidays.

Yes.

So why is Johnson doing it?

This was inevitable, thanks to the pressure from the mainstream media and Keir Starmer.

How low Labour has sunk! Its leader is now counted among those responsible for inflicting an inevitable increase in Covid-19 infections on the UK – yet again. People will die because Starmer did this.

Yes, some of the arguments in favour of re-opening schools have influence – but only because prolonged closures have placed pupils at the mercy of the Tories’ neoliberal system – one that Starmer wholeheartedly supports.

The combined incompetence of the government and the cruelty of the neoliberal system has meant many kids have missed out on free school meals, families are struggling to cope in overcrowded homes and kids have not been able to access online learning because of lack of access to a laptop or good broadband.

Lockdown has been made so difficult for school pupils because of the government’s decision to continue to punish the poorest in society. It is a disgrace that the Tories and the right-wing media are attempting to manipulate the stress and hardship and use it to back up their reckless campaign to open up society and let the virus run rampage.

It is a disgrace.

And the Tories’ adherence to the neoliberal system that demands minimal investment for maximum return (to the very, very rich) means that the reopening will be done on the cheap.

Jamal proposes a series of measures to make schools safe – or at least safer. None of them have been supported – or even mentioned – by Boris Johnson because they cost money.

Teachers should be prioritised for the vaccine since they will be mixing with such a large number of people. This should have been done months ago and as more and more of the clinically vulnerable and elderly are vaccinated, there is no reason not to now prioritise teachers.

There should also be plans to repurpose public buildings as classrooms or put money into new buildings on school sites to facilitate social distancing in classrooms and allow for proper separation of year group bubbles.

Supply teachers and newly-qualified teachers who are not employed can be utilised to allow for smaller class sizes and more social distancing.

The vaccine is not the cure-all that Johnson and his cronies have claimed. It wont protect you as fully as you think, and it won’t protect as many people as you think.

And, of course, it has only been applied to a minority of the population – on a first-dose basis.

How sad that Johnson is so keen to prolong the UK’s Covid-19 agony, just to please his backbenchers, the baying hounds of the mass media… and Keir Starmer.

Source: A school student speaks: 8 March ‘big bang’ reopening just isn’t safe – Counterfire

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Boris Johnson’s ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown ignores the science YET AGAIN and the death toll could be huge

Mess: Johnson’s plan to ease lockdown is as muddled as his hair. Even with 80 per cent vaccine efficacy, half the population will still be vulnerable to infection.

Scientists have warned that Boris Johnson’s plan to end lockdown restrictions will cause a huge increase in Covid-19 hospitalisations – even in the most optimistic scenarios.

So much for “following the science”, eh?

It seems that

The government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) [said] tens of thousands more people can be expected to die from Covid because vaccines will not provide complete protection against the disease, and not everyone will have the jabs.

All scenarios led to a resurgence of cases because so many vulnerable people remained unprotected, even with high vaccine coverage.

Johnson’s plan is a bespoke model that does not correspond with any of the SAGE scenarios – but its closest equivalent, scenario three, predicts a resurgence of Covid-19 in the UK around September.

At yesterday’s press briefing on the government’s plans, chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, who is said to have shares in a pharmaceutical company that was working on a vaccine, warned that even with 80 per cent efficacy, half the population would still be at risk from the disease.

He said a cautious step-by-step process, with pauses of four or five weeks between each to monitor the impact, was the right way to go.

It seems strange, then, that the Johnson plan will reopen all English schools on March 8.

Scientific modellers predict that this will drive the infection rate up by between 10 and 50 per cent – negating the reductions of the current lockdown and vaccinations.

They said a limited reopening, possibly starting with primary schools, was a far better option and would allow scientists to assess the impact on infections within the community.

Johnson has ignored this good advice and intends to steamroll his easements through – as he did last year.

We all know how that turned out. Why are you letting him do it to you again?

Source: Demand from Tory MPs to scrap Covid rules ‘could bring huge death toll’ | Politics | The Guardian

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Starmer’s attitude to schools reminds us his only purpose is to block opposition to the Tories

Suck up: Johnson can keep smiling because he’s got little blue boy Keir Starmer backing him from the Labour Parliamentary benches.

Many may consider that Keir Starmer is a traitor to the people of the UK after his latest display of support for the government he is supposed to oppose.

Starmer has stated – publicly, for all to hear – that he supports Boris Johnson’s decision to reopen all English schools and damn the science.

That means he has set himself against the education-based organisations that have called for a phased reopening of schools – and only if it is supported by scientific evidence.

He thinks he knows better than the experts.

He said he did not support mooted industrial action over safety concerns, after nine teaching unions warned it would be “reckless” to open schools at all once on 8 March.

Sir Keir expressed concerns that children were falling behind, having previously urged the government to open schools as quickly as possible.

Asked whether teachers could be drafted in during the summer to help children catch up, he said: “That may be possible.

“Again, schools staff have been working around the clock. Remember, this time last year they were preparing to work through the Easter break and they’ll probably end up doing that again.

“So they do need a break. There needs to be a long-term plan to catch-up because the attainment gap has got bigger over this pandemic – it was bad enough before it.

“We need a long-term plan for catch-up, but we do need to give credit to teachers and school staff. We need to think of how we do catch-up and close the attainment gap.”

Will Starmer be paying school staff for the extra hours they’ll be asked to work? Will he be compensating them for the holiday time they will lose?

Just because schools haven’t been open, that doesn’t mean staff have not been working, remember!

And his determination to ignore warnings by scientists puts him on the same level as Michael Gove, who famously extolled the virtues of ignorance in the run-up to Brexit (and now we can all see how that is turning out).

Starmer is not a Labour politician in any meaningful way.

He is an infiltrator in the Labour Party, along with all those who support him (including paid staff; some of us knew that from the backstabbing that happened during the so-called “anti-Semitism” witch-hunt when Jeremy Corbyn was leader).

His purpose seems clear: to prevent Her Majesty’s Opposition from being run by anybody who might ever oppose the Tories.

And he is succeeding.

Who could possibly support a Labour Party that does nothing but suck up to the worst prime minister, and the worst government, the UK has ever had.

Source: Keir Starmer opposes strike action by teachers and says they may have to work during holidays | The Independent

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Johnson releases advance details of ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown. He’ll kill thousands more

Boris Johnson: if he tries to tell you he’s following the science by reopening all English schools at once on March 8, this is the message you need to remember.

Boris Johnson has released details of his four-test “roadmap” out of lockdown – via the media, as has become his usual cowardly method.

It is now clear that Johnson will continue habitually to release details of any plans that may be controversial through his media cronies, to provide him with advance warning if any parts of them prove unpopular.

He is a coward – as bad in his way as Keir ‘focus group’ Starmer.

Here are some details:

The “rule of six” is expected to be reintroduced for outdoor gatherings from March 29. Outdoor sports facilities are expected to be allowed to open that day, and organised outdoor sport will be permitted to return.

In April, it is hoped that domestic self-catering holidays will be allowed and that gyms, hairdressers, and non-essential shops will be able to open.

Mr Johnson’s “roadmap” will include four tests which must all be met before the next step can go ahead. They are:

  • That the vaccine deployment programme continues successfully
  • That evidence shows jabs are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated
  • That infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which puts unsustainable pressure on the NHS
  • That the Government’s assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new variants of concern

The plan will be rolled out across the country at the same time with no return to regional tiers.

But I want to focus on the very first element in Johnson’s ‘re-opening’ plan:

Initially it is understood England’s schools will all be re-opened on March 8.

It seems Johnson is not only ignoring the science in his determination to do this, but also defying nine education organisations: the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), GMB, National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), NASUWT, National Education Union (NEU), National Governance Association (NGA), Sixth Form Colleges’ Association (SFCA), Unison, and Unite.

In a joint statement, they said:

The science around the role that schools play in the overall rate of transmission is uncertain. Scientists have expressed different views on this point. What we do know is that the full reopening of schools will bring nearly 10 million pupils and staff into circulation in England – close to one fifth of the population. This is not a small easing of lockdown restrictions. It is a massive step.

These factors necessitate a cautious approach with wider school and college opening phased over a period of time. This is the approach being taken in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It allows public health experts to assess the impact of the first phase before moving to the next.

We are increasingly concerned that … to order a full return of all pupils on Monday 8 March in England … would seem a reckless course of action.

It could trigger another spike in Covid infections, prolong the disruption of education, and risk throwing away the hard-won progress made in suppressing the virus over the course of the latest lockdown.

We therefore urge the Prime Minister to commit to 8 March only if the scientific evidence is absolutely clear that this is safe, and at that point go no further than a phased return of children and young people with sufficient time to assess the impact before moving to the next phase.

We see in Johnson’s plans no indication that his decision to reopen all English schools on March 8 has any basis in science.

His demand that there will be no phased return but all school pupils will go back at once is a slap in the face for the professionals who wanted a phased return – and sheer ignorance when compared with the policies of other UK countries.

It seems clear that this weakest of UK prime ministers has caved in to pressure from his backbenchers and big business.

He may get away with it, if the vaccination programme has reached enough people by March 8 and proves as effective as some claims state after the first jab.

But I fear that he is provoking yet another spike in infections and will cause thousands more deaths.

And even if it does happen, he’ll get away with it.

He may be the weakest prime minister the UK has ever had, but he’s still above the law that oppresses you and me.

Source: Boris Johnson’s four-test ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown including ‘new rule of six’ – Mirror Online

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These Covid-19 outbreaks happened in schools in June. Still want your kid there in September?

Social distancing for infants: apparently the measures imposed in some schools simply didn’t work.

It’s perfectly safe to send your child back to school, Boris Johnson said – flying in the face of the facts.

Public Health England – because it hasn’t gone yet – has just published details of the number of people who caught Covid-19 after schools opened in June. And they’re not good!

First-off, there were 30 outbreaks. There should have been none.

These outbreaks resulted in a total of 198 confirmed Covid-19 cases – 70 in children and 128 among staff. Again, there should have been none.

And 121 cases were linked to the outbreaks – 30 in children and 91 in staff. Again, these people would not have been at risk if schools had not reopened – in a limited way, remember – in June.

Is that really everybody, though?

I wouldn’t like to say for sure, because the government’s test and trace efforts have been a travesty.

Still, we’re being told that children are at greater risk of long-term harm if they don’t attend school than from the virus.

I’m sure that will be a great comfort to parents and children who contract it during the autumn term.

Source: Dozens of coronavirus outbreaks linked to schools in England that reopened in June, PHE analysis finds

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Labour members: why revolt over Starmer’s ‘blind eye’ for refugee rights? Does he have a SEEING eye, in that case?

Still apt: Keir Starmer reckons he was named after original Labour leader Hardie – but can anyone doubt that his illustrious forerunner might have said these words, if confronted with evidence of Starmer’s abysmal performance? [I’m astonished to discover, after using the image on another article, that I need to clarify that he didn’t.]

Don’t get me wrong; it’s great that Labour Party members are challenging Keir Starmer over something.

And his failure to voice a coherent party policy on the people coming across the channel in dinghies – because they aren’t legally allowed to demand asylum in the UK without physically being here – is indeed shameful.

It seems the sticking-point for party members is that Starmer has criticised the government for incompetence in failing to carry out its own policy to deflect refugees away from the UK, because it is not Labour’s job to support the Tories in their cruelties.

And the protesters are right to point out that international law is clear: the migrants’ right to come to the UK for asylum is protected.

But there are so many other issues on which Starmer has disgraced himself – and brought Labour into disrepute.

Where is the party’s condemnation of Israeli’s bombing attack on Gaza, that has been ongoing for, I believe, 11 days by now?

Related to that, where is his apology to all the party members Labour has been persecuting with false allegations of anti-Semitism? This is linked to the party’s attitude to Israel because Labour under Starmer seems to think that opposition to that nation’s policies is the same as hatred of Jews – a clear fallacy.

Still on an ethnic theme, isn’t the Labour leader due a kicking over his frankly racist attitude to the Black Lives Matter campaign?

Or, going back to support for the Tories, why is he getting a free pass over his demand that schools must open again in September – in line with Boris Johnson’s own comments – when it is still not clear whether this is putting our children, and ourselves, in danger?

In fact it seems all-too-easy to challenge Keir Starmer over failings in his leadership.

Has he done anything that party members can wholeheartedly support?

Source: Channel crossings: Keir Starmer faces Labour revolt over stance on refugees | The Independent

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UK Covid deaths remain horrifying – so Tories are opening gyms, swimming pools and outdoor performances

Oliver Dowden: do you believe this face when it tells you it’s safe to go back in a swimming pool with loads of other people who’ve never had a Covid-19 test in their life?

Imagine a plane crash killed 157 people. It would be top of the day’s news. A terrorist incident killing 126 would also be the top headline.

Those were the Covid-19 death figures on Monday and Tuesday, and the media – led by the Tories – tried to make it seem like a cause for celebration!

And now, to top it all off, culture secretary Oliver Dowden has announced the latest plan to increase the death toll: reopening gyms and swimming pools!

It seems they want us all to die.

Dowden said outdoor theatres could reopen immediately, along with recreational sports. Indoor pools, gyms and sports facilities will follow.

Here are the details:

  • Outdoor pools will be able to re-open on 11 July
  • Indoor gyms, swimming pools and sports facilities will then be able to re-open from 25 July
  • Grassroots sport will be able to return from this coming weekend, beginning with cricket (other sports will follow)
  • Outdoor theatres will be able to start up from Saturday
  • Small pilots of indoor performances with socially distanced audiences will also take place to help work out the best way to get them up and running
  • From Monday 13 July, beauticians, tattooists, spas, tanning salons and other close contact services can reopen “subject to some restrictions on particularly high-risk services”

Okay, so how will we be able to avoid catching Covid from other users of these sporting facilities? Dowden said there will be “enhanced cleaning” at gyms and pools.

How the hell is that going to work?

In a place like a swimming pool, where people immerse their entire bodies – including the faces that we’ve all been told not to touch since March – what are they going to do?

And nobody will be asked to wear a face mask in a gym.

So that’s fine. If anybody asymptomatic takes Covid-19 into a gym or pool with them, everybody there is certain to catch it.

Dowden held a press conference, touching on other matters. For example:

He said he was “absolutely confident” Boris Johnson and Gavin Williamson would not have ordered parents to send children back to school unless it was safe to do so. Oh, really?

England suffered a wave of school closures after Johnson and Williamson ordered them to open too soon and outbreaks of Covid happened.

If Dowden was “absolutely confident” Johnson and Williamson’s plan was safe, this does not bode well for his reliability on gyms and swimming pools.

And in response to a question on sanctions for people who flout the rules, he said he was “tremendously heartened” by the “good British common sense” the British public had displayed.

Does he mean the common sense displayed by the public in Soho when the pubs opened on Saturday? Let’s look at a picture of them all keeping two metres away from each other:

Or we could consider what happened at Bournemouth when the sun came out?

Well.

Apparently the police have the power to disperse crowds. Clearly they didn’t exercise it on Saturday.

Perhaps they were too busy stopping and searching 12.5 per cent of London’s black population for no good reason instead…

Dowden also – implausibly – claimed that the government continues to be “informed by science” on the pace at which it is reopening the economy – but we can see that this isn’t true.

Asked about the data the government has seen since pubs and hairdressers re-opened last weekend, he said it was “all continuing to move in the right direction”.

But we won’t know whether those reopenings have led to an increase in Covid infections for another week and a half.

It all adds up to nothing less than sheer foolhardiness from a government that knows it is the people who will suffer for Tory mistakes.

You’d think Boris Johnson would have got the message after a hospital in his own constituency had to close its Accident & Emergency unit, with no fewer than 70 people going into self-isolation.

But no.

He wouldn’t get the message if it was written in fiery letters across the sky and followed him wherever he went.

He’d probably just try to convince us that God was wrong for arguing with him – and then deny it when religious leaders got angry.

Source: Coronavirus updates: Culture secretary gives update on reopening of economy in England – BBC News

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Super Satur-die: but if pubgoers catch Covid-19, the blame will still belong with Boris Johnson

As I write this, some English people will have been in the pub for more than 10 hours. I wonder how many of them have caught Covid-19 by now?

Boris Johnson said pubs could open from 6am, dubbing the day “Super Saturday” in an attempt to get people in – and it seems to have worked.

People have camped outside and queued up to get into their local drinking establishments – forgetting the 2m social distancing rule in the process, This Writer notices.

There seems to have been a widespread amnesia about face masks, also:

Admittedly, Johnson has taken precautions. He told everybody to use their “common sense”:

So it seems likely that England is cruising towards another peak of infections, on a wave of alcohol – and lies.

Johnson claimed he would not ease lockdown if the ‘R’ rate – the rate at which Covid-19 infections multiply, edged above 1 – that is, one person being infected for every person who already has the disease. But the ‘R’ rate is above 1 now in many parts of England and he hasn’t said a word.

What’s going on? Some covert deal with Wetherspoons?

(It would make sense – Johnson might be expected to at least try to get back the £48 million he has given to the pub chain.)

The decision to allow pubs to open is like spitting in the face of everybody at the NHS who has worked hard to keep the number of deaths down, despite the Tory government’s continued failure to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) or carry out tests to any recognisable standard (because Johnson was determined to outsource provision of these to private firms that failed us all). NHS staff have protested…

… but it is impossible to reason with blank stupidity. That’s why this is likely to be accurate:

Of course, some of us might hope that certain people catch the virus, considering the way they have flouted all the other rules of lockdown…

And what about this idiot?

But we should all remember that if anybody gets it at all, they will not be to blame. They are, after all, only obeying the instructions of their government.

And any deaths will be entirely the fault of Boris Johnson.

Alternatively…

Remember the words of Samuel Pepys during the Black Plague of 1665:

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Dangerous ‘pub’ tweet drops UK Treasury in hot water

The Treasury has been accused of taking an irresponsible approach to the coronavirus epidemic after a backlash to its Twitter post, hailing Saturday’s scheduled reopening of England’s pubs.

“Grab a drink and raise a glass, pubs are reopening their doors from 4 July,” the tweet read, while a graphic carried the message: “Pubs are back”.

Many of those condemning the post… accused its celebratory tone of being in poor taste given that the virus has killed at least 43,000 people in the UK.

The tweet came as Leicester was put back under lockdown conditions amid a localised outbreak and fears were expressed about numbers of cases being seen in Greater Manchester.

Research conducted on behalf of the hospitality industry has suggested many people across the UK are concerned about the reopening.

The irresponsible tweet certainly attracted the wrath of the Twitterati, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak targeted for criticism:

According to the research, people are less likely to go to the pub as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. But that still leaves plenty of punters ready to risk infection:

And that’s why Sunak and the Treasury have been pilloried.

But Tories will never understand that there is more to life than their personal bank balances.

That’s why they tell us we must endanger ourselves with possible exposure to Covid-19, because it is important for the economy.

They don’t care that nearly 70,000 people in the UK have died so far – people whose lives were worth far more than the price of a pint.

Source: ‘Raise a glass’: UK Treasury faces backlash after hailing pubs reopening | Global | The Guardian

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