I spent the last three days giving interviews to the press on the economic effects of the Covid outbreak in Italy and lessons for the U.K. A number of countries across the world has made the decision to close schools, and I am therefore really surprised at the strategy adopted by our government.
I am no scientist and completely respect the expertise of those that are advising government from a scientific perspective, but the decision is not based on science alone.
I question the ethical considerations that have led to adopting these decisions, that are now being presented as based on a trade off between safeguarding public health and safeguarding the economy.
This is not true: the job of the government is to make an ethical decision on how it values the lives of those it serves, and then apply it consistently to the many trade offs that flow from that decision: between alternative spending to support public health, and thereafter between alternative spending to support the economy.
Boris Johnson said, and I quote “It is going to spread further, and I must level with you, I must level with the British public, many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time.” I find the statement indicative of having already given up on protecting the vulnerable and a serious lack of leadership and ambition as well. It may sound very Dunkirk, but we are not at war and I doubt people with underlying health conditions are feeling inspired right now. A true leader takes everyone home with them.
I will be keeping my children home from school from today and though I understand the school cannot do anything other than follow government advice for legal reasons, I feel we all must face up to the consequences on vulnerable people (including some of the staff and the families in the school) not just of the government’s but also our own private decisions.
It will be costly for us to rearrange our work around the children being at home and make sure they keep up with the school work whilst school is still on and they are at home, and it is possible that our elder child’s grades might suffer as a result but we think teaching them to be prepared to make personal sacrifices for the sake of others they might not even know is exactly what being good citizens is about.