Comedian John Bishop has posted an online video about the nonsensical nature of the government response to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. John Bishop talks of how the virus lurks late at night, meaning everyone must go home at 10 o’clock before it catches them. Not only could the virus tell the time, it could also count – six people are safe, but if a seventh joins them, then they are in danger of being nabbed by the virus.
John Bishop’s account of the absurdity of the government measures is a mild reflection of the reality. Should anyone visit a school, they might wonder if the risk of infection ends at the school gates.
Measures are in place. Year groups remain in their own areas of the school. The windows are expected to be open all day, no matter how cold it may be (those who are cold are permitted to sit in the classroom in their coats). Students are expected to line up outside when they arrive, no matter the weather, and are expected to be outside at break and lunchtimes. Catering arrangements are strictly regulated, take away food only. One way systems operate in the corridors. At the end of lessons, desks are expected to be wiped down with virucidal spray.
The statistics show that the rise in the number of cases continues unabated, while the government is insistent that schools will not close, that the measures are sufficient to safeguard students and staff. Anyone reading the list of Covid regulations implemented by schools might think there was such thoroughness that it was bound to be efficacious in preventing the spread of the virus.
The nonsense comes in the day to day realities.
The students may be segregated within the school gates, outside they mix freely. In some cases they have to, they come from the same household.
There is no prospect of distancing among students in the classroom, how could there be when there may be thirty of them in a room?
The corridors are filled before classes come into a room. It means that staff staying even one metre away from the assembled students becomes difficult.
Apart from the equipping the classrooms with hand sanitizers and spray and paper towels to wipe the desks, staff are issued with no PPE. Face coverings are not allowed in the classrooms. Staying distant is impossible when there is a requirement to spray the desks.
It seems that the precautions that are expected to be observed in every other situation are regarded as superfluous in schools. When going to other contexts, it seems odd to encounter people behind Perspex screens and wearing visors. I teach sixteen teaching sets – more than four hundred students. I pass many more in the corridors. How are teachers regarded as more immune to infection than those behind the screens in shops and banks and offices?
Until there is consistency in policies and actions, the government approach remains a nonsense.