Making schools safer isn’t about personal choice, it is about public health and caring for each other.
First published in September 2021.
Professor Stephen Reicher, Professor of Social Psychology, School of Psychology & Neuroscience, University of St Andrews, Member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) subcommittee on behavioural science:
“Number 10 not ruling out ‘firebreak’ lockdown if Covid cases rise? So, stop them rising, for God’s sake. Make clear infections do matter. Give people clear information on how to keep safe. Make schools and workplaces safe...
“Certify restaurants, bars and venues as meeting Covid security standards before they can reopen. Because if you don’t start off by protecting us, you end up having to restrict us. That’s the price of the strategy of neglect.”
Dr Gabriel Scally, public health physician, visiting professor of public health at the University of Bristol, member of Independent Sage:
“The government and its senior officials claim that Covid should be regarded as similar to influenza and that we have to ‘learn to live with it’. This worryingly persistent and flawed approach ignores the hazardous and evolving nature of the virus.
“All too often, messaging has been aimed at transferring responsibility to individuals. Pointing the finger at people who are obese, are reluctant to be vaccinated, or are unlucky enough to have severe underlying conditions and telling them to be ‘cautious’ is no substitute for what has been missing all along – an effective strategy for getting the virus under control.”
Dr Stephanie Coen, Assistant Professor in Health Geography, Nottingham University:
“Some of our Covid safety material talks about respecting people’s choices. But this isn’t about personal choice, it is about public health. It is about caring for each other.
“I’ve been told I can sardine six students into my tiny office and that masks aren’t mandatory. How would you feel as a first-year student in that situation? Could you ask your professor, or the person sitting next to you, to wear a mask? It puts them in an absolutely unfair position.
“Universities are asking people to come back to campus without mandating that basic things are in place to make it safe. It’s not about emotion.”
Professor Azeem Majeed, Professor of Primary Care and Public Health, and Head of the Department of Primary Care & Public Health, Imperial College London:
“I support the extension of Covid-19 vaccination to all 12 to 15-year-old children in the UK. The JCVI looked at a very narrow range of outcomes when reaching its decision not to recommend routine vaccination for this group.
“We need to look at a wider range of outcomes – including prolonged illnesses, long covid, and risk of transmission to other family members; as well as the impact on children’s mental health and education through absences from school because of Covid-19 infection.
“New research from the USA published this week showed a 10-fold increase in hospital admission rates in unvaccinated adolescents compared to those who had been fully vaccinated. International data such as this confirms the safety and efficacy of Covid-19 vaccination for children.
“Other measures to protect children in schools are also needed. In particular, improving ventilation and air quality in classrooms and other indoor spaces in schools is essential.”
Professor James Naismith, Director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute, Professor of Structural Biology, University of Oxford:
“The UK, either whole as individual nations has had a depressingly terrible pandemic. The cumulative death rate is much higher than many comparable countries, not being the absolute worst is hardly worth bragging about.
“The only two interventions that make a big difference are lockdown and vaccination. Vaccination is simple, safe and cheap. Lockdown is painful, expensive and damages health. Vaccination has saved 10,000’s of lives in the UK, therefore the more people we vaccinate the less deaths and long covid we will see. Spain, Denmark, France and others, despite a slow start, are now doing better than the UK in their roll out of vaccine. We should learn from them how to accelerate our program.”
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▫ PMP News reporting.
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[This piece was first published in PMP Magazine on 12 September 2021. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]
(Cover: Adobe Stock/Marina Demidiuk. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)