The Great Covid Dilemma

To open schools for Face to face teaching or to move to remote teaching?

Photo by Max Fischer on

The great moral dilemma of our time: Don’t forget the underlying narrative that, despite the trash talk from the Daily Mail, schools are NOT closing, those in London are moving from face to face learning to online learning except for exam classes and vulnerable students. From a teachers perspective online teaching is a pain in the backside and we would want to avoid that as far as possible.

So the options available to school leaders are either face to face teaching or remote teaching, which one is more preferable?

A) Face to Face teaching

  • Education is very important and with public examinations due in the summer, time cannot be lost. Students will fall behind and will be unable to compete in the future.
  • The mental health and well being of students will be adversely affected. Children need interaction with their peers to sustain personal development. Already there are reports of a four fold increase in eating disorders amongst children.
  • Without schools being open, the economy grinds to a halt. Instead of working, parents are having to entertain their children or monitor their online lessons. In some cases parents are having to lend their child(ren) their laptop preventing them from doing any of their own work.

B) Remote Teaching

  • Covid infections are rising rapidly and the new strain is as the Government states out of control.
  • Transmission in children is low, but the real threat of 30+ bubbles taking the disease back to their families, some of whom are vulnerable is very high and with ICU units reaching capacity can the risk be taken?
  • A lack of PPE for school staff in small poorly ventilated rooms

From my own perspective, I think schools should be open for face to face lessons, but there are a number of caveats within this. Firstly is it safe for the school to open? Are the teaching areas suitably large enough and/or are there enough staff in school to be able to facilitate this? Secondly, the Government should prioritise school staff in the vaccination programme, whilst it does not solve the problem of transmission to family members of the students, it does enable an extra layer of protection for those on the front line who do not have the PPE protection of other frontline workers.

Photo by Gantas Vaiu010diulu0117nas on

All in all, this is a very avoidable situation, we have known that the winter months would bring further challenges and it doesn’t take ‘Mystic Meg’ to understand that the virus would be more prevalent in these winter conditions.

That there are no contingency plans in place from the Department for Education shows a real lack of leadership from themselves or the Education Minister Gavin Williamson MP. It is very simple in the case of scenario (A) we will deploy policy (X), for (B) we will deploy (Y) and so on, all it took was some organisation and foresight which appears to be lacking in our political leaders.

There are plenty of opportunities for taking teaching outside of the classroom perhaps now presents a perfect opportunity for the profession to move into the 21st century? In the meantime, I wish everyone the best of luck in and out of schools in the next few days and weeks, it will be a bumpy road, but hopefully we will see each other on the other side. Good luck.

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