If parents were told how long to expect school gates to stay shut due to Covid, they could better plan for their kids’ education

Schools are not a battleground between parents and teachers, or unions and politicians. Teachers do not prefer remote learning; they are more aware than anyone of the damage school closures cause. Overwhelmingly, everyone wants kids at school, while everyone, looking at the UK’s Covid curve which is now almost vertical, can see that they must stay at home. It’s this kind of maturity – being able to see that the outcome you prefer is not possible within the reality of your situation – that makes the general population so inconvenient for a political discourse that skids by on bluster and false binaries. The government is in denial about this and continues to treat its citizens in England like children.

What parents are worried about is not the homeschooling per se, but its open-endedness. The education secretary has bandied about 18 January as the date when schools in England that are closed will reopen – everybody knows that isn’t the case. It is impossible to bring infection numbers under control within two weeks, and no measures can be relaxed until that happens. The prime minister, meanwhile, keeps it vague, promising changes “as soon as possible”. It could mean anything, and functionally means nothing.

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