It looks like the ending of this lockdown is going to be as mismanaged as its introduction, exacerbated by certain sections of the media. Judging by their front page, The Daily Mail now seems to be intent on generating animosity for teachers by suggesting they are cowards if they don’t risk their health.

We currently have the highest death toll in Europe. It is estimated that 173 NHS workers and other care-workers have died during this Corvid-19 pandemic. Thirty-three London bus drivers have died. Yet we don’t have any test and tracing infrastructure in place. We don’t yet have adequate PPE. Teachers should resist pressure on them to reopen schools in potentially unsafe working environments. And their unions are there to protect them by assessing the risks. The British Medical Association have said the teaching unions “had been ‘absolutely right’ to urge caution and prioritise testing before reopening schools on 1 June”.

There are two aspects to risk assessment. The chance of an event happening and the seriousness of the consequences if that event happens. The chances of a twisted ankle on a walk across lowland fields are really not much different to one up a hill given the same duration. But the consequences of such an injury up a mountainside are obviously more serious.

Each of us are unconsciously assessing these everyday risks every time we venture out, based on our life experiences, attitudes, training, observations, or, dare I say it, common sense, British or otherwise. We are constantly taking steps to mitigate those risks, especially when the consequences are severe. Sometimes those steps are made unconsciously, diverting to one side to avoid a rocky descent for instance, or consciously, slipping a waterproof top in my bag. Of course, humans are notoriously bad at assessing risk and in some respects, I’m getting worse as I get older, my mind thinks I’m 20 years younger and fitter.

The daily death toll reported by the government and the never-ending flood of reports in the media has meant both the perceived risk and consequences are very high. It stands to reason that the risks of catching the virus will be higher in a classroom, and may well be an acceptable risk to readers of the Daily Mail but to teachers, who like all of us need to assess their own risks, what’s at stake, is their and their families lives. I certainly wouldn’t fancy playing Russian roulette with it.

Sorry, rant over. Normal service will be resumed tomorrow.
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