If teachers die from coronavirus when schools reopen, the government will again have blood on its hands

·4-min read
Boris Johnson reacts during a visit to The Discovery School, Kent in July. The PM has urged for schools to fully reopen by September: Reuters
Boris Johnson reacts during a visit to The Discovery School, Kent in July. The PM has urged for schools to fully reopen by September: Reuters

One can only hope that Gavin Williamson is watching very carefully as Scottish school pupils return to full-time education. Nicola Sturgeon is under incredible pressure following the exam results “moderation” fiasco and she is reopening schools on the back of a low R number.

It is well understood that the risks to the pupils are low, this is not so clear for the teaching staff or what effect this will have for the wider community infection rate. The current situation (as in England) is politically motivated, a necessary precursor to allow the economy to ramp up.

If teachers fall ill and die as a consequence, the politicians once again will have avoidable blood on their hands. My wife is one of many extremely anxious teachers out there. The school promises on social distancing, hand hygiene, one-way systems are flawed and shallow. Teachers know this and are well aware that the risks are high. Please let us hope no lives are lost in this perverse education experiment.

Paul Morrison
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Lebanon economy

If Lebanon were a major public company which was too big to be allowed to fail, it would be put into administration while its finances were sorted out, and its entire operations were re-engineered.

Of course it isn’t, but there is a comparable path. The UN should put it under a limited life (say an extendable three-year period) French protectorate.

Philip Goldenberg

Retire to free up jobs

Here’s an idea. All those women who were born in the 1950s should be allowed to retire and receive their state pensions thus freeing up jobs for the current school, college and university leavers. Yes, there is a financial cost but is that greater than the damage done by youth unemployment?

Re-invest in community education and reinstate the subsidised “hobby” classes – painting, pottery, literature, languages and so on, allowing those who are retired to learn new skills and develop further. It also supplies a pool of “young” volunteers who have been sadly missed by so many charities and other organisations.

These are small differences the government could make that would, in the present financial situation in which we find ourselves, cost relatively little for huge results

Judy Marris

Democrat’s winning ticket?

I read Danielle Zoellner’s informative column (12 August) about the life and times of Kamala Harris, the prospective vice president and Joe Biden’s running mate. By all accounts this woman is a high achiever and has herself smashed so many glass ceilings as a woman of colour.

Donald Trump at this point of the electoral game should be very concerned because this could indeed be the winning ticket for the Democrats.

Maybe, just maybe, something good and proactive will emerge from this year’s catastrophic events, if American voters get behind Biden and Harris.

Obviously there will be contradictions in her history and her confrontations with Biden, but they could, with their individual strengths and talents, invigorate American politics and bring it safely back home from the last four years of a populist president who rules by infamous tweets and retrograde and reactive hard-line governance.

Judith A Daniels
Great Yarmouth, Norfolk

A case for PR

There is always an excuse for not changing our electoral system which reflects the big two “hanging on by the finger nails” in the hope that “my party” might be able to grab a majority of seats with less than 50 per cent of the vote. Campaigning for electoral reform is the big decision as it puts representing the voice of all the people ahead of the wish list of the party.

The UK, Belarus and France are the only countries in Europe not utilising a form of PR. Our current system allows a party with less than 50 per cent of the vote unchecked power and, in effect, limits real electoral choice to a small group of parties. In effect, millions are disenfranchised in this country knowing that their vote will not count.

PR is used in the devolved nations and local councils so that people can have a voice. The dragging of heels in Westminster reflects the duopoly not willing to give up their possible chance of power.

If we had had PR and a system where dialogue and negotiation were encouraged and necessary, would we be in the Brexit mess we face now?

Paul Dickson

Political plague

Who will save us from this accursed plague – and I don’t mean Covid-19. The Labour Party is too busy eating itself (again) and I can’t remember who the Lib Dems are. As a lifelong Labour voter a mantra keeps running through my mind: “Where is the Tory Party when you need it most.”

Dave Morgan