There was a woman walking along the footpath beside the A38 today. It was a warm afternoon, some sunshine between the clouds. A summer’s day out in the fresh air, what could be more healthy?
Clearly, even taking a walk through the country on a fine day is now regarded as dangerous, for the woman was wearing a Covid visor.
In school, measures remain in place. Except for movement between lessons, year groups remain in their own areas of the school. The windows are expected to be open all day, no matter the weather. Students are expected to line up outside when they arrive, even if it is raining, and are expected to be outside at break and lunchtimes. Catering arrangements are strictly regulated. One way systems operate in the corridors. At the end of lessons, desks are expected to be wiped down with virucidal spray.
While the students may be segregated within the school gates, outside they of course mix freely. In some cases they have to mix, they come from the same household. There is no prospect of distancing among students in the classroom, how could there be when there may be thirty of them in a room? The corridors are filled before classes come into a room. It means that staff staying even one metre away from the assembled students becomes difficult.
From September until Christmas, apart from equipping the classrooms with hand sanitizers and spray and paper towels to wipe the desks, there were no other precautions deemed necessary. Yet there is no evidence of teachers being cut down in swathes. Even when face coverings became mandatory, I chose not to wear one in the classroom. I am asthmatic and found wearing a mask difficult.
When going to other contexts, it always seemed odd to encounter people behind Perspex screens and wearing visors. I wear no mask and I teach sixteen teaching sets – more than four hundred students. I pass many more in the corridors. I have countless conversations.
Perhaps teachers have been regarded as more immune to infection than those behind the screens in shops and banks and offices. Perhaps years of exposure to infections is thought to have built up an immunity to illness among those who stand at the front of the classroom.
Or perhaps teachers are evidence that Covid is not a threat to the majority of the population. If a sixty year old asthmatic with hypertension and occasional angina is not in danger, then not many people are.