It’s been nearly 10 months since life was turned upside down, and we have had to adapt to constant changes in how we live our lives.
We’ve listened to the messages from the Government and, even if we didn’t agree with some of the rules, we’ve followed them – well the majority of us have.
When we’ve been told to stay indoors, we’ve done it. When we’ve been told we can’t see our loved ones, we’ve grumbled and got on with it. When we’ve been told we couldn’t have the Christmas we wanted, we’ve adapted and made the best of it.
And all of those concessions and adaptations have been because we were presented with data that showed us coronavirus was running riot, our hospitals needed to be protected, and lives needed to be saved.
Get the latest news on coronavirus in Surrey sent straight to your inbox by signing up to our newsletter. Find out how HERE.
So when the Government tells us it is safe to send children back to school, should we now ignore the dark purple maps and graphs telling us that children are helping spread coronavirus and the new variant is sending infection rates through the roof?
Let’s have a look at some of that data.
Below is a chart taken from the latest release from the Office for National Statistics, with infections up to December 12, before the Christmas break.
It shows primary school age children accounted for the second highest number of infections in England by age group behind those in secondary schools.
When London schools are told they should stay closed because it’s not safe, how can it be safe to say places like Warlingham, Ewell and Sunbury on London’s borders should send their children back?
If you delve down and look at more hyperlocal infection rates, there are massive variances at neighbourhood level. Places in the same borough have wildly differing rates.
Take Reigate and Banstead as an example. According to the Government’s coronavirus interactive map, in the seven days to December 29 Nork had an infection rate of 1,026.8 new cases per 100,000 people.
Right next to that is Epsom Downs and Common which had an infection rate of 386.1 in the same period. Also next door to Nork and over the London border is Belmont and South Cheam with an infection rate of 690.0. Schools there remain closed.
And that’s not forgetting that people don’t necessarily go to school in the exact ward or even borough in which they live.
Head teachers and school leaders in Surrey are saying it makes no sense to send children back to school.
Teaching unions are telling their members it’s not safe to return to face-to-face learning. Teachers are telling SurreyLive they don’t feel safe returning to the classroom.
Earlswood Infant and Nursery School told parents in an email they already have several staff members who tested positive during the Christmas break, as the new variant spreads rapidly throughout Surrey. The “vast majority” of teaching staff at that school signed a letter to the head saying they don’t feel safe returning.
Throughout this crisis all our sacrifices of freedom have been for a good cause – to keep people safe. It’s been absolutely right to listen to the Government and do all we can to prevent the spread of the virus.
We’ve done what we were supposed to and listened to the advice, but this time it makes no sense.
After the decision on London’s schools reopening being reversed, people just don’t know if what they’re being told today won’t change tomorrow.
The Government appears to be flapping at a time when parents want to feel confident in the advice they are being given
So if a parent doesn’t feel comfortable sending their child back to school, they shouldn’t have to.