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  • the prime minister announces, Britain is moving to the next stage in the worst public health crisis for a generation.

  • So often the currents of this torrid year have flowed.

  • Most chop early through schools tasked more than any other public service with trying to be normal when things or anything.

  • But into this chronology of woe has come a late effort to arrange mass testing in schools by the start of January news, which dropped into heads in boxes on the last day of term.

  • Many heads are incredulous.

  • We have to get parental consent if young people are gonna have the testing, So that's a logistical nightmare already.

  • If you look at school sites their massive because of the zoning and the bubbles, we've actually moved to three entrances.

  • So we're thinking, well, where will that testing station go?

  • Does it go with the year 12 entrance or with the year seven entrance?

  • Should it go in our amazing sports hall that actually takes away teaching space?

  • So that's another challenge.

  • So the logistics of trying to piece together where everything is going to go is mind blowing.

  • Spoke to the department education today, he said that teachers won't have to actually be responsible for conducting the tests themselves, right?

  • But then they're saying that they're saying that anomie of volunteers will be able to do it on support staff.

  • How credible do you think that is?

  • I'm going to say, I think it's nonsense.

  • This disdain goes much wider than this corner of north London.

  • Somehow, this announcement managed to do what almost never happens.

  • It brought all the teachers unions on educational, employers, organizations together, issuing a joint statement condemning the government's plans as unworkable and chaotic.

  • Further anger came today, when news not revealed.

  • The Department for Education was offering £1000 for civil servants toe work over the Christmas period to help set the system up with no equivalent for heads or teachers.

  • But the backdrop and genesis of all this is as follows.

  • Secondary school students have the highest infection rate of any age group.

  • Ministers want this testing in place to bring that down and keep schools open.

  • Others, and are beginning to think that that might not be possible.

  • It's clear that secondary schools now are, you know, places where cove it is caught on spread on.

  • Do we know that secondary peoples can transmit the virus very effectively, uh, into their families and into the community.

  • So, um, if the government doesn't get a grip on if we don't start reducing co vid levels amongst his age group, yes, I think there's every possibility that will be in another lock down on schools will be in that, too.

  • But government says that's precisely why they want to bring in testing.

  • I would imagine.

  • Well, then we agree that the government should bring in testing.

  • Absolutely, but not like this.

  • One thing's for sure.

  • Relations between school staff in the department for education, never warm.

  • Announced somewhere near sub Arctic DF sources say that they're cognizant of what a huge problem staff absence has been.

  • What a huge problem pupil absence has been there, cognizant of the fact that there could be a spike in the early part of January and they have this new testing capacity, so why not use it to ameliorate those problems?

  • And that is all laudable.

  • The problem is that it comes at the end off a year where the goodwill that would be required from within the teaching profession to get all of this new system up and running by the start of January has, after this year all but evaporated for so many of us.

  • It's been a year to forget.

  • But we know in our bones we won't not least because we know it's spirit endures that January bodes ill If it's governments hope that mass school testing might make the coldest month more bearable, might avert.

  • Locked down might keep the school lights on.

  • They may need to think again.

  • There's Goodall there, So what should we be anticipating in schools and elsewhere?

  • In January, I'm joined by Baroness Louise Casey, former government adviser on social welfare, on Sir Mark Waldport, the former chief scientific adviser to the government who sits on stage.

  • Sir Mark, let's start with you tonight As we go on air.

  • There are reports that this mutant strain of covert 19 that has been spreading the Southeast that it's sufficiently strong that the government may be thinking about bringing forward restrictions rather more quickly.

  • What do you know about this strain?

  • What's so powerful about it is it's so widespread that it might change the policy well, I mean, what we know is that there are two factors that determine their transmission of this disease.

  • One of these is the properties of the virus.

  • On the other is the way people behave and how they socially distance on DSO.

  • What happens with viruses that they do naturally mutate all the time on the ones that are likely to do well are the ones that increased transmission.

  • And so we know this is a new variant.

  • It has been seen in other countries, but it seems to be quite widespread, which suggests that it has got transmission advantage.

  • Andi scientists are working extremely hard to work out what's going on.

  • Basically, there are three possibilities.

  • The first is that it does transmit more easily, the second that it might give a different pattern of infection.

  • Um, Onda, third that it might become resistant to a vaccine now, the latter to seem rather unlikely at the moment.

  • But it does definitely is impossible that this transmits more easily on.

  • Of course, it will make the social distancing even more critical on DSO.

  • How will it change January what we face in January, if this is the case, well, you know, the bottom line is that the situation is serious At the moment, it's obvious that the infection numbers are very high indeed.

  • At the moment, um, it's rising quite rapidly in London, in the Southeast, in the east of England, andan.

  • Fortunately, even in the parts of the country where the infection is coming under control, the cases remained stubbornly high.

  • And so the NHS is under great pressure.

  • Admissions are high on, but sadly, admissions, inevitably, in a proportion cases turn into death.

  • So we're going into January in quite a serious situation where we do need quite strong measures to socially distance on.

  • If the virus is changing, then that makes it even more imperative before we bring Louise Casey on this issue off at schools testing.

  • How realistic is that?

  • A strategy that's gonna work?

  • Well, I mean, it's first.

  • It is an enormous logistic challenge on if you like.

  • One of the really serious capacity issues is staff in the NHS and teachers in schools, and we know that they're under immense pressure.

  • The second thing about the testing is that it's not a complete magic bullet, so the sensitivity off the lateral flow tests that's being used means that they only pick up somewhere between maybe 50% and maybe 65% of the people that are most infectious, so it will miss cases.

  • But on the other hand, it will discover cases that haven't been found by other means.

  • But it's not the complete answer.

  • Okay, Louise Casey.

  • So, I mean, if testing has its challenges, is the answer to delay the return to school even further.

  • Well, I'm not uneducated, inal specialist, but just listening to that, you know, the bottom line is that we have to keep the schools open as best we can that we know that the impact on particularly kids from disadvantaged backgrounds is really, really profound.

  • So, you know, I'm up for testing, and I'm up for testing from day one.

  • What I'm not up for is how late in the day this decision was made as, um, just been said.

  • But market just said that the huge logistical implications for schools not help today, Tonight, by the Department of Education, offering £1000 bonus to civil servants that are prepared to work on the on the project over Christmas.

  • But that same offer not being made to colleagues that who are, you know, in the teaching profession.

  • So I think the government just wobbles all the time around, making strategic decisions and seeing them through Williams to bring in the Army centralized issue.

  • Get it sorted?

  • Yes, well, e think somebody today said that it often feels a bit more like Dad's Army than it does about the Army, and I think I'll leave it at that.

  • Okay, let's talk in your specialist area the social consequences of a possible third lock down.

  • I mean, it's been terrible for, obviously, for incomes, poverty.

  • What the consequences of a third lock down?

  • Well, I mean, the starting point here is this that pre the pandemic, we had high numbers of people in poverty, very high numbers of people now homeless on DPI, people living in temporary accommodation, families essentially locked up in single rooms with all of their family.

  • And if they're lucky and microwave like it wasn't great before the pandemic.

  • What the pandemic has done, and particularly locked down is it's just pushed.

  • What we already knew was a problem into a really, really difficult and horrific place.

  • So we've got something like almost 400,000 redundancies.

  • Additional redundancies between March and October, we've almost doubled the number of people on universal credit.

  • The stretch between the haves and the have nots is now way too stretched.

  • And so when you go into the new Year, I think what the government needs to think about is how do we get a reset, particularly for families that are struggling on their vast numbers.

  • Now it's like these are ordinary people that you're working on the ground in trying to feed people essentially well, yeah, who thought that I would be having had a long career in public service.

  • I'm now working in food banks and helping people who were queuing for food in the in the United Kingdom.

  • It's like one of the legacies from this pandemic cannot be that we quadruple the number of soup kitchens and food banks.

  • That would be a disgrace on.

  • I think what I'm trying to get across here is Ah, met a woman who was coming out of a food bank.

  • I helped carry her shopping to her friend's car.

  • Clearly, she can't afford to get to him from the food bank.

  • Her and her partner had both bean furloughed.

  • They couldn't afford that 20% drop.

  • Now she is on universal credit.

  • She waited 2.5 months for that universal credit to come through.

  • Uh, I can't tell you how how awful her life waas Andi.

  • She literally has been surviving simply on that food bank I saw another woman walk in on was so, so hungry on.

  • She was a very thin woman on She stuffed a cake directly into her mouth because she was that hungry.

  • Government would argue that they've extended the fellow scheme at 80% through till the end of April.

  • Now it's more than a year of those subsidies.

  • Um good, Good.

  • They should.

  • They should but send another other support packages for commercial firms.

  • So the issue here is that in the preceding decade to this pandemic, the amount of cuts austerity brought to public services onto individual incomes of people on welfare support literally have.

  • We're all in this storm Bright called this pandemic.

  • Some of us Aaron yachts on some of us on rafts that off that are literally sinking.

  • We knew before the pandemic that if you live in a deprived area and you're a woman, you'll have eight less years of your life than a woman who lives in a non deprived area.

  • Same statistics.

  • What the pandemic has done is pulled that even further and further apart.

  • Let me just bringing Sir Mark.

  • So I mean, obviously very costly in terms of the social infrastructure.

  • Three.

  • Idea of an extra lock down.

  • I mean, but, you know, Neil Ferguson, your colleagues or former colleague onstage says that a We have to be even tougher now than we were in November.

  • Yeah, well, I mean, the point is, you think it's OK, but of course, the other issue is that it's that it's those socially deprived and disadvantaged people who are the most severely hit by coronavirus as well.

  • So if you want to see an illustration of the social determines of disease, coronaviruses it, and so it is a terrible situation.

  • But it does.

  • This point is absolutely correct.

the prime minister announces, Britain is moving to the next stage in the worst public health crisis for a generation.

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Coronavirus UK: What next for schools as cases rise? - BBC News

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/12/19
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