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Readers letters: January 8

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Economy cannot dictate response

This country has now had more than 70,000 coronavirus-related deaths. The health service is under great strain, and this new strain of the virus is rapidly rising, especially in the East of England.

I find the imminent reopening of schools and colleges extremely foolhardy. This government seems to have little concern about the well-being of all staff members who are employed in any form of educational workplace.

These work places have large teams of support staff, such as learning support, catering, caretaking, technical and administration, as well as outside contractors and bus and taxi drivers, who are all at risk, not just the teaching staff.

Tell us your view on any topic (43886576)
Tell us your view on any topic (43886576)

Without these large cohorts of support staff, schools, colleges and universities could not operate.

Educational campuses are large sites, where many people gather and move about mainly in enclosed areas. Even the best Covid-related health and safety measures and procedures won’t prevent some infections occurring.

All this government keeps telling us is that it is imperative for the wellbeing of young people to keep schools and colleges open.

The wellbeing of staff during this current health emergency is rarely addressed.

My own parents had six years of very disrupted education during the Second World War, but both eventually had long and fulfilling professional careers.

I can’t help feeling that this blundering government is only thinking about the economy and is using the educational services and staff as surrogate ‘minders’ of our young people to keep parents at work to help shore-up this country’s weak and faltering economic situation.

Sadly, and inevitably, there will be educational casualties among students missing out or not being able to attain their own learning expectations, but this happens in normal times, as well as during national or international emergencies.

The Government had a real opportunity to close all schools and colleges in the weeks prior to the Christmas break, which may have assisted in slowing down the spread of the new and more virulent strain of the virus.

Unfortunately, our leading ministers have been too slow in taking and using this chance for direct and urgent action.

The reopening of all places of education should now be delayed to protect all staff and students, as well as the wider community, to help prevent this new Covid strain from gaining an even stronger and potentially devastating claim on all of our lives and families.

Simon Whitnall


Editor’s note: This letter was received before Monday’s announcement.

Shared endeavour was remarkable

As we look forward to 2021, I suspect many of us will reflect on how difficult our lives have become because of the pandemic.

The tragic loss of life coupled with the damage to our economy is unprecedented in peacetime. Understandably, many of us wonder when this pandemic will be over and are concerned about the future holds for all of us.

Looking back, in spite of the lugubrious atmosphere that prevailed throughout 2020, there have been some remarkable achievements, showing what can be delivered at a time of national emergency.

Here in Suffolk, the outpouring of shared endeavour and commitment to helping those in need has been remarkable and this continues. It is almost as if there was a hidden army of volunteers who suddenly mobilised to keep our county going.

These days, life seems to be much more complicated than when I was a boy. We’re so reliant on other people and organisations for our daily lives that it was a seismic shock when the national lockdown was imposed back in the spring. Life came to a juddering halt.

But in April, I really believe The Queen’s extraordinary address to the nation acted as a catalyst for providing the hope and inspiration to defeat Covid-19 – when she said, we will meet again.

The development of vaccines in record time is truly spectacular and shows clearly how that power of collaboration delivers. While the vaccination of 66 million people in the UK is difficult, there can be no doubt we enter 2021 with renewed hope. In the meantime, we will need to be patient and stick to the guidelines.

I must take this opportunity to thank all of you for your personal contribution and sacrifice as we have adhered to the regulations.

We are all frustrated and fed up, but sticking to the rules has made the job of our police and other enforcement agencies and emergency workers so much easier.

In our country, policing is by consent and your attitude has shown other countries across the globe how important those Peelian principles of policing are.

We must give our thanks and appreciation to all the emergency services and also recognise the contribution made by so many essential workers.

Remember also how many industries have risen to the challenge as well – online deliveries, manufacturing of essential equipment and medical supplies have been developed and delivered with breathtaking speed.

Many people have demonstrated remarkable flexibility and adaptability with their working practices. The ability to utilise with new methods of communication has allowed work to continue while respecting social distancing.

That said, we must also recognise the hurt and pain affecting significant numbers of people. The loss of employment and income and the ensuing mental distress should also be in our minds.

Looking forward, I am confident Suffolk will recover if we continue to work collectively, adhere to the rules and look after each other.

Tim Passmore

Police and crime commissioner for Suffolk

Read more: All the latest news from Diss


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