The Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, has said she cannot rule out Covid-style school closures in the future as you “would have to deal with what you were dealing with”. The Telegraph has the story.
Gillian Keegan refused to take class lockdowns off the table after Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Tory leader, said that they were “the worst thing that could possibly have happened” for children during the pandemic.
He said: “I hope we never, ever again repeat this terrible, terrible experiment.”
Responding during a Conservative Party Conference fringe event in Manchester, Mrs Keegan said: “Iain says we hope we would never do a lockdown again, and I agree with that. I often get asked that question.
“But of course you don’t know the circumstances. If you were in a completely different set of circumstances where it was awful for children and of course you have to consider teachers as well, you know you do have to look at the circumstances.”
Asked by the Telegraph whether schools should be classified as critical infrastructure so there is more parliamentary scrutiny ahead of any future closures, she said: “I think there’s been a lot of lessons that have been learned about what we would do in a pandemic and what we would not do in a pandemic.
“The one thing I think is really important though is to know what it is you’re dealing with. So I was asked this, would you say you would never close schools again? And obviously mostly you would say yes, of course you wouldn’t.
“However, you would have to deal with what you were dealing with.”
The Education Secretary was speaking at an event hosted by the Centre for Social Justice think tank, which has warned that a rise in pupils missing lessons post-lockdown risks a “tidal wave of youth crime”.
Overall school absence is up by more than 50% since 2019 and persistent truancy, where pupils miss at least 10% of lessons, has more than doubled.
Worth reading in full.
The implication that they wouldn’t close schools again for another Covid-like disease is welcome, and shows the success of the sceptical movement in shifting acceptable opinion back to a more evidence-based position, where Government ministers feel obliged to distance themselves from the lockdown disaster.
However, leaving school closures open as a possibility for other diseases is worrying, simply because it is almost impossible to think of a disease outbreak in the modern world that could possibly warrant closing the nation’s schools.
The mention of considering “teachers as well” is also ominous as it was largely pressure from hysterical teaching unions that led to the long closures of 2020 and 2021.
Key lessons have still not been learned.