‘Downing Street dunces are failing our kids with chaotic response to Covid’ – Polly Hudson

When the coronavirus pandemic began, Government scientists said spaces in schools should be effectively ventilated as a priority. However, in many cases this has not been done

Pupils attend a summer school at St Richard Gwyn high school, Barry
Pupils attending a summer school at St Richard Gwyn High School, Barry

It’s January 2030, the inquiry into illicit Downing Street Christmas parties has been delayed once more, and my son is preparing to take his mock GCSEs, unsure whether the real ones will take place, or be cancelled for the 11th time.

Sounds far-fetched, but it’s all too believable, isn’t it? Let’s not forget this week is the glorious anniversary of kids going back to school… for one day only.

My seven-year-old has never experienced a normal, uninterrupted school year in his life, and I’m beginning to wonder if he ever will – not just because of Covid, but due to this government’s appallingly chaotic response to it.

It’s not like we haven’t known what we needed to do for ages.

Scientists said spaces in schools be effectively ventilated as a priority


Andy Commins / Daily Mirror)

Early on, it became clear Coronavirus is airborne. We know the Government are well aware of this because they keep putting adverts everywhere, including in this very paper, showing it pouring from people’s mouths like some kind of projectile floating black plague.

So it’s no surprise that 18 months ago, Government scientists insisted spaces in schools be effectively ventilated as a priority.

What is horrifying – and unfortunately not a surprise – is that in many cases this still hasn’t been done.

Term started in England today, just after the Government had grandly announced that they’ll be providing air cleaning units to schools.

There are around 300,000 classrooms in the UK. The amount being rolled out? Seven thousand. And when are they being rolled out? Ahhh… TBC.

To be fair to the Government, they previously announced a planned rollout of 1,000 air filters, too. So only 292,000 to go, eh?

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a virtual press conference to update the nation on the coronavirus pandemic


POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

And that’s presuming schools stay open as, due to the way Omicron has been allowed to let rip, so many teachers are off sick.

In his New Year’s Eve statement, Boris Johnson looked down the barrel of the TV camera lens and urged us to “remember the importance of ventilation”.

As always, his talk is cheap, and meaningless. It’s action that counts, and little is being taken.

Meanwhile, our children suffer in a myriad of ways. Their physical health, mental health, educationally, socially.

Anyone who is clinically vulnerable or immunocompromised – including teachers and parents – is more at risk than ever.

Epidemiologist Dr Deepti Gurdasani is clear about what she thinks of the Government’s current plan.

“Not remotely adequate,” she said. “One in 15 primary and one in 20 secondary school children infected, as per ONS, returning to schools with policies that encourage infection. No vaccines for 5-11 years. No masks in primaries. 7,000 filters will do nothing.”

How can things still be this shambolic, woefully unsatisfactory and dangerous 22 months into the pandemic? Will our children ever know an ordinary school year again?

I’m beginning to wonder if my son will end up doing lessons online in his bedroom before attending University lectures online in his bedroom before graduating to working from home online in his bedroom.

This is not the future any of us want, for anyone, but it’s starting to feel like the future we are doomed to with this government.

Happy new year.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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