“Schools should be closed” says Guildford business leader

Earlier this month we spoke to Cllr Paul Spooner about the second lockdown in relation to schools remaining open. He responded saying:

“I support the ongoing provision of education at schools, colleges and universities. Having witnessed first hand the excellent leadership at Ash Manor School enabling provision for children of essential workers earlier this year and the efforts at the University of Surrey over recent weeks I am confident that we can continue to provide a sense of normality for the youngest in our community and allow for our older students to focus on their future through further education.”

Now two weeks into this lockdown we have spoken to Paul Bridgland, to get the point of view of a business owner:

Paul Bridgland
Paul Bridgland

Do you think it’s right that schools and universities will remain open?

Paul: I’m not in favour of the second Lockdown. Too many businesses will disappear and too many jobs will be lost, the economic cost to the country is £1.8bn a day apparently, however I do think that if we are all making this massive sacrifice then the schools should be closed as well – do it properly or don’t do it at all. I have stated this before, and I was inundated with stories of depressed children and lost education (to which I am very sympathetic) but I feel qualified now to comment further, consider this; my eldest son is a school teacher – this week he tested positive to COVID-19 and is now being ravaged by the virus – because he’s surrounded by potentially infected kids all day we sensibly cancelled a family supper a couple of weeks ago before Lockdown – so we are thankfully 100% clear but his wife will catch it and many of the teachers at his school and their families already now have it. Presumably some parents will start follow in this chain of events and so the (predictable) story continues.

What actions have the school taken to protect staff and students?

Paul: The school is apparently closing down several years immediately and should probably shut down altogether in due course if it spreads to other teachers I expect, so ultimately it will be closed not by law but because all the teachers are ill and infected. Bear in mind the greater picture that these kids will infect countless other people over the next few weeks – and all the infected teachers have mixed with people outside the school at a time when they had no idea they were carrying the virus my son for example has had to provide a list of everyone he has been in contact with for the previous 10 days, but he probably won’t remember every single encounter, Track and Trace is a long way off being effective – it’s just a token gesture to try and stop the spread.

There is a strong argument that children’s education needs to continue, as they are not badly affected by the virus.

Paul: We all know that children aren’t too badly affected by the illness, but they are superspreaders, especially the younger ones – they have no comprehension of the importance of social distancing. How can you honestly expect an 8 year old to follow the government guidelines for social distancing and sensible hand sanitizing when they are running around with all their classmates – the simple answer is you can’t. The importance of education and child welfare has to be balanced against the damage caused by Lockdown and the predictable effect of allowing children to mix on a daily basis in close proximity with lots of other children. I’m sorry but it just doesn’t make sense and in the meantime please spare a thought for the thousands of people, daily, losing their livelihoods.

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