The Isle of Wight's schools have been relatively lucky with overall pupil attendance being generally above mainland attendance and staff being somewhat more resilient.

However, education is still feeling the impact of Covid.

The latest ONS infection survey update shows one in ten primary age pupils have Covid.

We should remember schools have only been back for a short time since the Christmas holidays.

Indeed, on January 19 the Prime Minister said he did expect cases to continue rising in primary schools.

Knowing, we tend to see transmission rise in schools in the weeks following a school holiday, is it not prudent to wait?

Easing too soon could lead to increased disruption with children and staff having to isolate.

We wish to avoid more disruption, particularly for pupils taking national exams this year.

Their education has been badly disrupted already.

Rather than announcements arguably aimed at deflecting pressure from the Prime Minister and his job, government should be exercising a duty of care to Island pupils and the staff who educate them.

Government should have got ventilation and filtration solutions in place before Omicron — as SAGE advised.

Medical practitioners are doing so. Throughout the pandemic:

  • Visitor numbers are limited in chemists, masks must be worn and queues stretch outside into the cold wintery weather.
  • In GP surgeries windows and doors can be found open, one-way systems exist and provision appears to be limited. Routine tests appear to have been abandoned.
  • It can take three months or more to have a filling replaced on the NHS and a routine check-up is impossible unless one goes private. On visiting a dentist this week, external doors were open, heating appeared to be full on as were ventilation and filtration units. Yet there only appeared to be one other patient on site.

Education establishments are doing their very best, but mitigations in education are nowhere near those that these knowledgeable medical experts are using.

Are these experts wrong? Are we moving too fast? Should we move more carefully?

Ultimately, we need to avoid this stop/start to learning.

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