Recorder letters: Reopening of schools, face masks, safe protesting, racism and BAME Covid report

PUBLISHED: 12:30 14 June 2020

Children social distancing at school. Picture: PA

Children social distancing at school. Picture: PA

PA Wire/PA Images

Only go to school when it is safe

Deborah Fink, Wanstead, full address supplied, writes:

I was delighted to hear that Redbridge Council is against children going back to school yet and therefore disappointed to see your paper, promoting the idea.

On closer inspection, I noticed that your promotion was produced in association with the UK government. Meanwhile, on your letters page, two Conservative councillors push for children to go back as soon as possible.

It is interesting to note that the government’s advisory board is only represented by one local authority (Camden) with the rest being private schools, academies and trusts, who are of course, motivated by profit and I expect, getting the parents back to work.

However, the government’s scientific advisors have broken ranks and are saying that it is not safe for children to go back yet.

Given that the summer holidays will soon be upon us, what is the rush? And why reception, when that is the easiest age to teach at home, the hardest age to physically distance and when in Finland, which has higher standards of education and child wellbeing, children do not even start school until they are seven? Can we really expect five year olds to keep away from each other, not pick their noses and wash their hands all the time?

Teachers are saying that they have to get rid of soft toys, close their libraries, prepare marked off spaces in the playground, sit children apart and tell them not to bring in their favourite toys.

If a child hurts themself, they will be asked to do their own first aid. Can people not see how this could harm them psychologically by making them think they have done something wrong? I realise that younger children are less likely to get ill from Covid-19 but wonder if it’s also because unlike older children, they can’t stay home alone.

We still do not know enough about this virus. Although it seems to affect children much less than adults, we do not know whether it spreads less among them and how easily it is for them to infect adults.

Meanwhile, some children are developing a Kawasaki style, inflammatory diseases which is related to Covid-19.

The UK has among the highest death rates in the world, no doubt as we never closed our borders, did very little testing, tracing, and quarantining from the outset, have a shortage of PPE and NHS staff, and were slow to implement a lock down.

Now it is being eased early, when the death rate is still high and the rate of infection has gone back to R1. The government’s mixed messages is making some people think that we are safe when we are not and so are taking risks like flocking to the beach and not distancing. With this, shops opening and people going back to work and school, the level of infection is likely to spike again and could get out of control. The contact tracing app is still not ready and apparently not fit for purpose.

If children going back to school was really just about education, then why aren’t Eton and Harrow going back?

Schools have always stayed open for vulnerable children and those of key workers and that is how it should stay, until it is safe for all children and teachers to go back.

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Dispose of face masks properly

Judith Freedman, Ilford, full address supplied, writes:

On the few occasions I have been out there have been used face masks lying around on the pavement. Also there was one on my driveway this morning.

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The government need to address this problem by telling everyone how to safely dispose of the used masks so not to spread the virus. The public need to know they should not be throwing them away on the pavement or anywhere else.

Pure commonsense should prevail.

Stay safe while you are protesting

Cllr Jas Athwal, leader, Redbridge Council, writes:

People across the world are rightly angry. Angry that George Floyd was killed, angry that police brutality has gone unchecked for so long, angry that in 2020 institutional racism remains so prevalent and enduring across the world.

There has been a groundswell of righteous indignation and rage at this latest episode of racial injustice which follows so many others.

People from all communities, all countries and all races are coming together to make their voices heard and their pain felt, and I stand with them.

Justice must be done for George Floyd, justice must be done for the black community and justice must be done for every person who has experienced discrimination, abuse, or hatred because of the colour of their skin.

We are living through a pandemic. Already tens of thousands of people have died in the UK, almost everyone knows someone whose life has been cut short by Covid-19.

While our voices must be heard and justice must be done, we all need to do everything possible to maintain social distancing and stay safe.

I understand why people are attending protests, but I would ask them to please stay safe and peaceful.

Racism has no place in society

Cllr Linda Huggett, Monkhams ward and leader of the Redbridge Conservative Group, writes:

Today we have seen thousands of people demonstrate in London today for black lives. We share their grief and despair about the death of George Floyd and so many before him. Although George Floyd was killed in the United States, now is the moment for us to examine how we support and protect black people in the UK.

Racism and racist violence has no place in Redbridge and we must continue to stand against any and all intolerance. This pandemic has also exposed huge disparities in the health of our nation, and we support the government as it seeks to fully understand why and takes the urgent action we need to improve the lives of our BAME community. We urge everyone to stay safe and well.

Unjust situation demands action

Dr Alison Moore, London Assembly member, writes:

Last week, the government bowed to pressure and released Public Health England’s report on coronavirus health inequalities.

The report confirmed black, Asian and minority ethnic people are more likely to contract and die from Covid-19. This tragic and unjust situation demands action.

The mayor is right to call for a public inquiry into the disproportionate impact that Covid-19 has had upon BAME communities, and it is positive that the Equality and Human Rights Commission have now decided to launch one.

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