More on Schools: A Test for Boris’s Leadership

Following through on the vexed education issue, including a briefing from a front line teacher, it is clear to me that the present directives from the government are unrealistic except in the very short term.

At the beginning of the pandemic the government was cavalier in its attitude to the risks and over confident in its ability to lead the country though the coming crisis with minimal cost and disruption. It bought into herd immunity and let the rest go. Testing and lockdowns were not for clever us in the UK. When it became clear that the government was on course to preside over a biblical scale catastrophe though not paying attention and listening to the wrong advice, it underwent a skidding U-Turn experience in which we all took part. Sadly the mess is acknowledged to have cost thousands of lives.

The resultant loss of confidence at the centre, the nervousness of Boris, and the binge on endless reviews of issues for which the answers are already known, is symptomatic of an unwillingness to take any risk at all. There was a time when that was right, but not now. It is not possible to be safe. But it is possible to manage risk. The government is trying to eliminate risk. That cannot be done without a universal vaccine. Not only is this paralysing decision making and threatening economic recovery with unworkable restrictions, but it is also frightening very many people.

Time is running out. By July 4th the government must relax social distancing to one metre and from the beginning of September, eliminate social distancing altogether inside school gates in all schools, all year groups. It must have in place all the measures necessary to trace, track and isolate any spikes and outbreaks, which will for sure occur and end the bumbling confusion in pandemic infrastructure delivery which has been its trademark since March. If it cannot do this the Tory party must find new leadership which can measure up to the challenge. Dumping leaders is what it does best.

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