As my beleaguered teaching colleagues and I try to get our school communities into the swing of things once again this new academic year, I find myself to be merely, powerlessly wishing that no more grotesque permutations of the Covid Madness return for a third consecutive winter. ‘Home-learning’ in particular was, of course, disastrous for children in a myriad of ways. On a purely practical level, it was fairly tricky for the teachers too, so I do believe that most of the profession hopes to avoid the insidious perfidy of forced absences or outright closures. Granted, I would prefer my colleagues to be motivated in these desires by an understanding of the abhorrent, casual neglect of children’s fundamental needs over which we were forced to preside for two years. But I’ll have to be content if the Department for Education will just let us stay open.
Belatedly, conventional wisdom has it that Covid doesn’t tend to seriously affect the school-aged population. Perhaps if the undistorted version of that truism was more widely accepted – that Covid doesn’t tend to seriously affect the healthy population – some teachers (and their unions) might find that their selfish and flawed but unending clamour for ‘more to be done’ lost its sympathisers.
It’s been a typically warm and sunny September thus far, but a small number of our students remain curiously attached to their face-coverings, sporting them lesson in, lesson out, as I look on aghast but unable to order their removal. The so-called harmless, cost-free non-pharmaceutical intervention continues to wreak its harms.
For those of us who have, by now, long fought Covid restrictions, it might feel like a further, renewed battle this Autumn to see off the prospect of the Return of the Madness. After all the hammer-blows of Spring 2020, we ordered our thoughts, picked our battles, identified our sacrifices, practised our polemics, marshalled our arguments and, eventually, took to the fray. For many of us with little or no previous experience in politicking, we may even have learnt some tricks about the art of discourse and debate along the way.