August 2021: News from your local MP Jack Lopresti
Isolation has been harmful for many
FOR the last academic year, our children have worked hard to make up for the learning that they’ve lost during the pandemic.
It was a hugely uplifting time when we saw children head back to their classrooms in September, giving us a window into life beyond pandemic restrictions.
As we have been cautiously unlocking the economy since April, there was an expected rise in cases as people started to mix.
Thanks to the success of the vaccine rollout, this was manageable, without the equally increasing numbers of people in hospital and dying with coronavirus that we saw in previous waves.
However, increases in case numbers were keenly felt in our education system, leading to whole year groups across the constituency being forced into isolation and a return to remote learning when one of their classmates tested positive.
In June we saw the arrival of a new Health Secretary, Sajid Javid. Sajid has very strong Bristol connections, and was educated at Downend School in the 1980s.
A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Downend School with concerns about the impact of the self-isolation regime on them; they had suffered with a high number of cases, which led multiple year groups to isolate, often quickly being sent home just after they’d been back in the classroom.
This situation has been replicated in schools across the constituency.
Immediately after talking to the head teacher Lisa Howell, I got in touch with the Minister of State for School Standards, Nick Gibb, to raise her concerns, and those of schools around our area.
While it is absolutely right that we do everything we can to stop the spread of infection, we must have in place guidance which weighs up the effect on children’s education and the requirement on all of us to take personal responsibility for limiting transmission of the virus.
We must remember that it’s not just the children who are affected. By sending whole year groups home, tens or hundreds of parents must stay at home too. This may mean not working and missing out on income, and has knock-on effects for the whole community and the local economy.
I am glad that the Government has decided to change the rules, scrapping bubbles from August, meaning entire groups will no longer be sent home after a single positive case.
From September, this should mean a more normal time in school for our children, staying at home when they are ill, and otherwise catching up on lost learning in the classroom with their friends.
As we look ahead over the summer and into winter, we are in a very good position to begin to live more normal lives and live with the virus in the longer term.
Part of that is changing the rules about self-isolation for children and those who have had both jabs.
Any adult can now get vaccinated: if you haven’t already, please make sure to get your jab, so we can continue protecting everyone in our society and get our economy moving again.