Shut schools this Christmas for four weeks to halt virus – Yorkshire Post Letters

From: Peter Judge, Rastrick, Brighouse.

Should schools shut for an extra week at Christmas?

THE Government has told us that we can meet family or friends over a five-day period this Christmas. Then they blackmail us, cajole us, and make us feel guilty, by claiming that if we meet up with our families or friends at home – let alone in a pub – it will mean ongoing misery in the New Year (GP Taylor, The Yorkshire Post, December 2).

So why don’t they close schools one week earlier for the Christmas holidays? And have a four-week school holiday this Christmas as a one-off? If schools close, at the latest on December 12, the reduction in the spread of Covid will more than compensate for people having a bit of fun at Christmas – or at the Winter Solstice, or on New Year’s Eve.

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The problem is that schools are leaking Covid in and out. Why? Not because schools are open; indeed they most certainly should be. It is because Test, Trace and Isolate is not being practised around schools. Pupils are expected to be sent in to school from households with Covid, provided the child does not have symptoms.

Schools have faced a disrupted year due to Covid.

Children sent home because a classmate or teacher has Covid are not tested, and members of their household are still expected to go into work (and siblings to school), possibly unknowingly spreading Covid.

A four-week school Christmas holiday might seem unusual, but those two weeks could be made up by taking time from future holidays, and/or postponing the start of the 2021 summer holidays.

The Government has failed disastrously in its implementation of Test, Trace and Isolate, and it is time it got a grip. And it really is time that people were allowed to have some fun again, and for the Government to now take Test, Trace and Isolate seriously; and to implement it properly, including at the “school gate”.

From: Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, Leeds.

THE vaccine announcement is a significant step towards overcoming Covid-19 and GPs share in the optimism of the rest of the nation as a future beyond the pandemic comes more clearly into sight.

Practices have responded rapidly in recent weeks to put in place arrangements so that they are ready to deliver vaccinations once they are made available.

With regard to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, we need clarification and guidance from NHS England and the Government on how exactly practices will be involved in this first phase, given the much-publicised practical restraints around storage and transportation.

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