If schools aren’t given proper coronavirus protection, the classroom is no place for teachers or students

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Wednesday 05 August 2020 14:07 BST
Minister says schools opening 'not up for debate'

What now for the “frontline” in dealing with the deadly Covid-19 virus? I’ve been told in conversation that acting responsibly by wearing a mask or face covering to protect others is “hysteria”. Another person told me it’s an infringement of their civil rights.

If that is the case, there’s no problem with my erstwhile teaching colleagues returning to classrooms. Safety is not an issue then, apart from the contractual duty on every teacher to maintain a safe working environment for their students. “Hysteria” echoes while I wonder how a classroom can be made safe with minimum risk to both staff and their charges.

I sincerely hope that teachers and parents will continue to insist on high levels of safety in schools, in line with those in hospitals and care homes, as schools become recognised as part of the frontline.

If teachers are not given the required equipment and resources to match their needs in this international emergency and the bullying and hectoring noises emanating from this Tory government and its allies continue, then a classroom is no place for a child or their teacher.

David Clinch
Address supplied

Too lenient

The three thieves who callously dragged PC Andrew Harper to an horrific, unnecessary death in August last year are having their sentences reviewed by the attorney general.

Driving the car was 19-year-old Henry Long, whose sentence was 16 years for manslaughter. He had admitted responsibility for the death of PC Harper at an earlier court appearance. While Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers, both 18, were each sentenced to 13 years for manslaughter. They were passengers in the car driven by Long.

The punishment certainly does not fit the gruesome crime. In my view, the crime they ought to have been tried for is murder and attract the highest tariffs possible.

Nothing will bring PC Harper back but surely his life was worth much more than the sentences handed down which are, quite rightly, being re-evaluated.

Keith Poole

Brexit risks ignored

Your leader “The British public is in for a long winter of discontent thanks to Brexit chaos” and Rob Merrick’s article about the chaos Brexit will bring to our ports shows the disruption and economic damage that leaving the EU will inflict on our country. Tory Brexiteers chose to ignore the risks. But they would not have been ignored by any country looking for an opportunity to undermine us and our allies.

If the Johnson government doesn’t want to hold an inquiry into likely Russian interference in the 2016 referendum, then Nato should do so on the grounds that Brexit has weakened a key member and, as such, the alliance. After all, its purpose is to safeguard the freedom and security of all its members by political, as well as military means.

Roger Hinds

Real leadership

On Monday the prime minister told drug suppliers to stock up to avoid disruption after 31 December. On Tuesday the Department for Transport warned of chaos at British ports arising from border controls, even though Brexiteers repeatedly assured us in 2016 that no border checks would be required.

The common theme here is a refusal by the government at the highest level to acknowledge any accountability for the consequences of its actions.

For fighting the virus, it is therefore no surprise that sections of the population should see no need to take any individual responsibility towards society as a whole; that’s why we see massed crowds ignoring any attempt at distancing and control. And that’s before we even consider the confusion of all the current guidance in England.

For Brexit, we see Johnson and his cabal continuing on the path of wilful destruction of the UK, its integrity and its economy. In the last couple of weeks Tory MPs followed the whip to vote down an amendment to preserve in law the hard-won food, agricultural and social standards created over the last four decades, despite many previous promises that there would be no such dilutions, as well as an amendment to keep the NHS out of trade deals. And yet not a word of explanation from the top on these matters which are hugely important for voters.

In times of need the population needs to see leadership with integrity. That means honesty, transparency and empathy in fighting the virus. It also means honesty in accepting that existing plans might no longer be right in dealing with Brexit.

We may have left the EU, but we can still be in the customs union and/or the single market if it is in our interests (hint: it is). We just need to acknowledge the mistakes made in previous assumptions and decisions, as well as the effect of changing circumstances.

I can but hope, but the realist in me fears that if nothing changes quickly this country will suffer a serious hit on both fronts and be left behind for some time. And this government alone will be responsible for that.

Charles Wood

Brexit betrayal

If Sir Iain Duncan Smith and his fellow Brexiteers think the EU withdrawal agreement “costs too much” and “denies us true international independence” then why did they sign it? They presumably read it and understood the costs and implications. I have heard countless Leave voters say their vote was nothing to do with xenophobia or heaven forbid actual downright racism, but purely about “independence”. If so, the Brexiteers have betrayed them, and the impending chaos of a no-deal Brexit (the easiest deal in history, remember?) will be for nothing.

Deborah Everett

Back to the office

I suspect the real reason the government wants everyone back in the office has little to do with the local economy, although that is a legitimate concern. The truth is that Tory donors are horrified at the prospect of all that downtown real estate becoming valueless. Why should companies pay enormous rents when they can manage their dispersed businesses very well indeed? Perhaps it is time for the property owners and investors to visit a few former pit villages and learn how to deal with being deemed irrelevant.

Joanna Pallister

A poorer future

I do agree with The Independent's editorial this morning. I have long thought that the so-called sovereignty gained by leaving the EU is a chimera, delivering no actual benefits to the people of this country.

One question to which I have still to hear an answer is why this government imagines that the EU will allow UK exports to enter its territory without any guarantee that they meet the standards agreed by EU members for their market and consumers. The lorries could be backed up across Kent indefinitely, surely?

When I woke on 24 June 2016, my first thought was that we shall all be poorer for the rest of my lifetime. It does not look as though I shall be proved wrong.

Helen Bore

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