Should schools close due to Coronavirus?

I shared (not started) a petition today, asking the government to consider closing schools to reduce the severity of the Coronavirus outbreak in the United Kingdom. The situation in Italy leaves me concerned about where we are heading.

Our numbers are similar to theirs 11/12 days ago; to me it feels like the time to change the course of things. With a possible incubation period of 14 days, we would not see the effects of any social distancing / preventative measures immediately. Cases would continue to grow initially; the slow down button won’t work for days.

It may not be quite as bad as the numbers suggest – our NHS is potentially more equipped to cope??? We are really good at washing our hands????? Perhaps Italy had far less negative tests – the data isn’t available for us to see. Hopefully it is for those making the decisions.

Also, Italy’s cases started off more concentrated. One big exponential sequence is perhaps going to grow faster than lots of little ones? I honestly don’t know. The effects will certainly be felt harder. Furthermore they may have had more community based spreading (as opposed to travel linked) cases.

Whatever the answers are to these questions, exponential sequences grow fast.

With two boys at school, I am on two parent chats. One chat took the message as it was intended – a signpost to a petition that they may or may not like to sign and share, to which a few people replied ‘thank you, signed’.

The other chat shut me down with loose suggestions of scare mongering and panicking. One mum pointedly alluded to experts and guidelines; with the subtext of wind your neck in, what do you know.

As it is International Women’s Day I thought I would fight back a bit (I think you’re allowed to sell yourself today?). I am a Mathematics teacher by choice; I didn’t want to be a politician, but I never stopped caring about the world and what happens in it, when I chose my career.

Freedom of speech and listening to people matter to me tremendously. The government seem to be listening to experts, but expert advice will be in the context of what they think society will get onboard with – lets shout about what we are up for and why.

I have never shied away from making my point in meetings, even though it made my palms sweat and my eyes fill with tears if I really cared (mega annoying trait). Whilst a quiet thank you from someone who perhaps didn’t feel able to say anything buoyed me, what really motivated me was the feeling of calm that speaking up brought.

Speaking up is not necessarily about having the final answer or the complete solution; its about voicing your thoughts. Careful thoughts from a genuine place. Your thoughts matter. Especially with once a century pandemics. It is all a bit unprecedented.

Still selling myself…. I think and I care bloody hard. I don’t let things go if they trouble me and like things to be fair. I completed a Law degree because I was angry that things aren’t always fair. Some people in society need others to fight for them and I think we all have a responsibility to do this if we can.

The more vulnerable need us to make sure that we slow down the spread of Coronavirus, meaning that they can continue to access the health care that they need. Maybe we are on track with this, but as one of the signing mums said today ‘better safe than sorry.’

In my opinion, social distancing measures need to start. We need to consider closing schools or at least allow those with vulnerable people in the home/family/acting as caregivers to home school, without fears of prosecution or fines.

It is not a policy that could stand in isolation, and thoughts from both sides of the fence very welcome below.

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