I am baffled by the government’s apparent lack of empathy towards those of us who work in teaching (Government launches legal action against Greenwich school closures, 14 December).
I, like many teachers, am already exhausted by frequent 12-hour days and the strain of being on the social care frontline while also delivering high-quality lessons to my 200 students. Teachers have to fully invest both mentally and emotionally to enable students to achieve their aspirations.
But teachers are human too. We have lives, families and our own personal problems. Yet teachers, it seems, are not deserving of the same recognition as those in the NHS. We are also on the Covid frontline, with only a face mask to protect us. So, when Gavin Williamson brings legal action against schools, many of whom have battled to remain open for 15 weeks, I am saddened and shocked. Does he believe that teachers are dodging their responsibilities? We would not do this job if we did not care. By closing schools in the most affected areas, local councils and headteachers are safeguarding the mental and physical health of their staff, students and their families.
The irony is that we only want recognition of what teachers are doing and acknowledgement that many teachers may not see family members this year because they work in a high-risk environment. Please, Mr Williamson, view teachers as humans – otherwise you might just find there are no teachers left.
Given its position that schools must remain open, the government must urgently lead a sensible discussion with parents about the risks of children and grandparents mixing during Christmas – not in order to exaggerate risks, but to be clear about them.
On the latest ONS figures, it seems that about 2% of secondary and 1% of primary children have the virus – but this is a national average and has some uncertainty.
It seems that primary children may pass on the virus less than others – but the risk of this is much higher in a close-mixing indoor situation. The closer the mixing and the longer the time, the greater the risk of the virus spreading.
The risks of poor outcomes rise steeply with age. According to Forbes magazine, for adults aged 70 and older, getting Covid-19 is riskier than climbing Mount Everest.