Let’s put aside the bewildering range of advice given by the Department for Education to increasingly harassed headteachers. Let’s park, as well, the simple fact that no two schools are the same.
My asthmatic daughter is a rural secondary school teacher. She is looking forward to teaching in a September bubble. She’s not going to be allowed to associate with another colleague at either break or lunchtime. She will have to stay 2 metres away from students at all times. Textbooks used by one group have to be sanitised for 48 hours before being used by another.
But it’s not the challenges to her mental health, her subject discipline, student wellbeing or pedagogy that really worries her. It’s the fact that most of the children are bused into the school. The bus companies concerned have made it clear that they will not be responsible for enforcing the wearing of masks. The potential for the transmission and spread of Covid-19 is obvious.
She feels frustrated at her disempowerment and compromised in her ability to deliver any sort of meaningful curriculum, but, above all, she is fearful for the health and safety of the children, her colleagues and herself.
• The education secretary, Gavin Williamson, has announced that there is little evidence that in-school transmission of Covid-19 takes place (Little evidence Covid spreads in schools, says Gavin Williamson, 10 August). This is at odds with research coming out of Europe which seems to show that while younger students are more likely to be asymptomatic, older students (teenagers) are just as likely to spread the virus as adults.
Nick Gibbs, the schools minister, suggests that weekly testing in school is not required as students will be working in secure bubbles. This is all very well but most secondary school students will still be taught in groups of up to 30. A teacher may well teach five or six lessons a day, which means coming into contact with up to 180 different families. Viral overload could become a major issue. On the way home, students will tend to mix.
Teachers will be very much at risk and households are just as likely to catch the virus. The wearing of masks in school would mitigate the risks and weekly testing will allow outbreaks to be controlled more effectively.
• So Mr Williamson thinks there is little evidence of Covid-19 transmission in schools. Perhaps he and his department should read the news (Covid-19 may spread more easily among children than thought, report warns, 5 August).
To minimise the risks of transmission in schools the UK government should ensure that a test-and-trace system is fully in place across the whole country. We are far from having such a system, despite the government being fully aware of the successful systems that have been implemented in other countries.
• Of course the problem of children’s interrupted education after months of lockdown is an extremely important and difficult one, but I’m not sure where morals come into it (Boris Johnson ‘would close pubs before schools’ in local Covid-19 lockdown, 8 August). It’s much more helpful to look at the practical consequences of missed education and balance them against the risks of spreading the coronavirus. And which headteacher is going to accept lessons on morality from Boris Johnson?