A school email perfectly demonstrates the government’s shambolic handling of coronavirus

Boris and classroom
Eliza Egret

A leaked email shown to The Canary clearly demonstrates how, by keeping schools open, the government is spectacularly failing to protect us from coronavirus (Covid-19).

The email was sent by a school in Cornwall on 31 October, and was given to the parents of children who take a school bus. It told the parents that a child who takes the bus tested positive for the virus on 24 October. But the school was only informed on 30 October, and parents were told on 31 October. That’s a whole week after the child tested positive for the virus. The email said:

we need to inform you that someone on the… coach tested positive for Covid 19 last Saturday and we know that this person was on the bus on Monday 19th October when they would have been infectious.

Unfortunately, it took some time for this information to get to us, but we are passing this onto you immediately so that you are aware.

This period fell within half-term, with potentially infected children enjoying a week off, seeing family and friends, or even going on holiday after being exposed to the virus. Therefore, they could have been unknowingly transmitting the virus to others for days. On 31 October, they were told to self-isolate, but only for a couple more days:

We ask that those students who are not displaying any symptoms (loss of taste or smell, raised temperature, new and persistent dry cough) should return to school on Tuesday 3rd November when the 14 day isolation period is over.

The government is failing us

This letter perfectly shows why coronavirus rates are skyrocketing in the UK. It also shows just how incompetent the government’s system is. It’s unclear who was to blame for the long delay in giving parents the vital information they needed: whether it was the infected child’s parents, the local authority, or Serco’s Test and Trace system itself, which should contact those infected with instructions on what to do next. But it does show, yet again, that the system is broken. As the government tries to keep capitalism going as normal – by keeping kids in schools and therefore keeping people working– it is prioritising the economy over lives as usual.

Put schools in lockdown

As we prepare to go into a second national lockdown, it is nonsensical that schools and universities will remain open, only for the virus to spread in the classrooms and lecture theatres, and on school buses. The National Education Union (NEU) stated that:

NEU analysis of [Office for National Statistics] figures shows that virus levels are now 9 times higher amongst primary pupils and an astonishing 50 times higher amongst secondary pupils.

One angry parent tweeted:

Meanwhile, others are worried about the school cleaners and teachers who have no choice but to go into work:

Demand the closure of schools

The NEU is calling on everyone to contact their MPs, demanding that schools close. It says:

The new lockdown rules are just the latest in a long line of failings by the Tories. The government is likely to face court over its disgraceful Test and Trace system. And let’s not forget that its original plan, way back in March, was to let the virus “move through the community“. It even removed coronavirus’s classification as a high consequence infectious disease.

By partially locking down the country for a month, the government is just paying lip service to scientists and critics. To the more cynical among us, it seems that herd immunity is still its unspoken method of combating the virus.

Featured image via Flickr/Allison Meier and Wikimedia Commons/Foreign and Commonwealth Office

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