Labour Lord joins Tory call to risk lives with a rush back to school

Anytime I see him pop up, like a wee dinosaur scurrying around under the lumbering frame of Tyrannosaurus Broon, I’m reminded of a study I did in 2004 of adolescents’ political knowledge. Titled ‘Naming the First Minister‘ (ref below), it revealed that only 41% could name him and, memorably, that one wrote ‘Jack McGoogle!’

Anyhow, McConnell has been appearing everywhere in the last few days. Still a relatively young man, is he angling for a return to Holyrood? The opposition is not formidable.

As a councillor he kept his teacher’s salary so combining the ‘duties’ of lord and MSP should be easy for him.

So, full-time schooling eh? He’s in fine company with Jackson Carlaw and his coterie of ‘Karens’ or Tory mums.

Is the evidence on his side?

Fellow ‘tusker’ stewartb has done the work already on this:

Any notion that the Scottish Government does not wish to see all schools back to ‘normal’ as quickly as possible makes no sense. But where Covid-19 and public health, and especially the welfare of the country’s children, are concerned why would anyone NOT have the ‘precautionary principle’ front and centre of every consideration? The safety of pupils, school staff and the wider community must be paramount in planning for schools to re-open as we all play a part in seeking, progressively to suppress coronavirus.

There is now a growing number of international examples where following the easing of lockdown newly opened schools are having once again to be closed following further outbreaks of coronavirus.

The purpose of profiling examples here is not to add to concerns of parents but to give some insights, some perspective, to hold on to in the midst of media coverage. This is important as we hear certain loud voices in opposition to the Scottish Government and its cautious approach on managing the return to school in August.

South Korea : 29 May, 2020:

“More than 200 schools in South Korea have been forced to close just days after they re-opened, due to a new spike in virus cases. Thousands of students had earlier on Wednesday returned to school as the country began easing virus restrictions. But just a day later, 79 new cases were recorded, the highest daily figure in two months.

France : 18 May, 2020:

“Just a week after one-third of French schoolchildren went back to school in an easing of the coronavirus lockdown, there has been a flurry of about 70 Covid-19 cases linked to schools.

Some schools were opened last week and a further 150,000 secondary school students went back to the classroom on Monday as further restrictions were loosened by the government. The move initially spelled relief: the end of homeschooling for many hundreds of thousands of exhausted French parents, many of whom were also working from home.

But French education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer sounded the alarm on Monday, telling French radio RTL that the return has put some children in new danger of contamination. He said the affected schools are being closed immediately. French media reported that seven schools in northern France were closed.”

Israel: 3 June, 2020:

Two weeks after Israel fully reopened schools, a COVID-19 outbreak sweeping through classrooms — including at least 130 cases at a single school — has led officials to close dozens of schools where students and staff were infected. A new policy orders any school where a virus case emerges to close.

The government decision, announced Wednesday evening, comes after more than 200 cases have been confirmed among students and staff at various schools. At least 244 students and school employees have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the Ministry of Education. At least 42 kindergartens and schools have been shuttered indefinitely. More than 6,800 students and teachers are in home quarantine by government order.

It’s an abrupt reversal of the post-pandemic spirit in Israel as officials lifted most remaining coronavirus restrictions last week. With fewer than 300 deaths in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had declared victory in early May over the pandemic and last week told Israelis to go to restaurants and “enjoy yourselves”.”

New Zealand: 6 April, 2020:

This New Zealand example is not about a reversal of a school opening but an example of how school communities are not immune to the virus even in a country that by all accounts has suppressed the virus very successfully.

The largest cluster of COVID-19 cases being tracked is at an Auckland girls’ school, Marist College, in the suburb of Mount Albert. The Catholic school now has 72 confirmed cases, having escalated from 47 over recent days. The entire school of 750 students plus staff and parents has been classed as “close contacts.” The New Zealand Herald described the college’s experience as a “nightmare.

On April 2, several primary school children from the nearby Marist School were reported to have tested positive for COVID-19, likely from contact with family members at the college. There have been unsubstantiated warnings of an “explosion” of cases among students from Lynfield College and Mt Albert Grammar who share the same school buses as Marist students.”

The latter point on school buses highlights another challenging detail that local authorities and school heads in Scotland must consider.

The Netherlands : 3 June, 2020:

“An elementary school in the Netherlands closed in the city of The Hague on Wednesday after two teachers tested positive for coronavirus and seven students developed gastrointestinal symptoms, an official said.

It was the first to close again after the Netherlands, which has reported more than 46,000 COVID-19 cases and 5,977 deaths, reopened elementary schools on May 11 at reduced capacity as part of a gradual lifting of lockdown measures.”

“The Dutch school’s two locations were closed, with about 500 students going back to online learning to minimize health risks.”


Naming the First Minister, in Scottish Affairs, 49: 2004

13 thoughts on “Labour Lord joins Tory call to risk lives with a rush back to school”

  1. Implicit in all these calls for the return of children to their schools in Scotland must be belief that the test, track, trace and isolate system developed by the Scottish government will work effectively to prevent greatly increased transmission of covid19.

    “Dr Joshua Moon, a research fellow at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), said: “I would be fairly confident the opening of schools has increased transmission within schools, but that is also what you would expect – the question is whether or not you can jump on that and get it under control.”

    Between April 20 and May 24, the number of suspected outbreaks in schools did not rise above four, however it has shot up to 15, 14 and 24 in the past three weeks respectively. …”

    It is already clear that the England system of test, track… is dysfunctional and therefore increases in transmission cannot be controlled effectively.

    “Independent SAGE
    18 Jun
    Replying to
    We identify critical failures in the current testing system. We believe ‘Test & Trace’ is insufficient. We have published a Find, Test, Trace, Isolate protocol based on
    advice. Please read our full report published today:

    It is to be hoped that Lord McConnell (or McGoogle) , the BBC in Scotland and Carlaw’s “mums” all recognise that it is likely that there will be border controls between Scotland and England as Scotland succeeds in keeping the virus under control, while England, unfortunately, fails.

    Also, it will become clear that “blended” education in Scotland poses fewer risks to children of transmission than education, full time, in schools with distances of 1 metre between pupils (and staff) being the aspiration.

    Williamson wants whole-class ‘bubbles’ from September.

    “Under government instructions, schools reopening to some pupils in the past few weeks have created “bubbles” of no more than 15 pupils. The idea is that because those 15 pupils do not interact with those from other bubbles, it lowers the risk of transmission.

    Presented with concerns from schools that even a reduction in the rules to one metre would still not allow schools to get all pupils back every day, Williamson said: “As you well know, we’ve been creating bubbles of children in the classroom, creating a protective environment for those children.

    “Currently that is 15. What we would be looking at doing is expanding those bubbles to include the whole class. But the relaxation of social distancing is incredibly important, not just for schools but for the whole economy.””

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Me thinks his nest us seeking new feathers to line it
    Along with his ego requiring massage
    In reply to him i say i have spotted a glimpse of the horns and tail of the Devil
    Upon him which he truly is
    Know thy Foe

    Liked by 3 people

  3. ‘McGoogle’, that’s hilarious!

    McConnell, what’s his game, maybe he is giving Mr.Mc.Broon a wee rest from having to stomp about in a very bad mood for the sake of it. McConnell takes that £300+ a day from the public purse, for shafting Scotland big time, must be mentally exhausting, or would be for anyone with a conscience.

    The first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, (in case anyone doesn’t know!), should just keep asking questions. Don’t bother trying to answer the Britnats’ questions at FMQs, just ask them what their agenda is here. What is it the Tory branch and their red Tory pals want? Do they want children and staff to die? In a scenario where cases of Covid19 increase because of schools reopening too soon, will the ‘opposition’ take responsibility for that, and the fall out, having pushed for reopening?

    These people in the Tory and Labour branches of their UK, English HQ’d parties, are playing politics with peoples’ lives, it’s very sinister, and also absolutely despicable.

    I wonder what the results would be today if young people in Scotland were asked who the FM is!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. “Dave
    BBCRadio Scot …So we’ve got Jack McConnell on educashun immediately followed by Ronald MacDonald on economics (2014 expert).
    A yoon fest between 8-830. #bettertogether alive and well

    Liked by 4 people

  5. The appropriate reply to BBC Scotland and McConnell.
    20 Jun
    Replying to
    Quote Tweet

    Cllr Elena Whitham
    · 19 Jun
    I don’t even have words to express my frustration at this ignorant tweet. You have no idea what had been happening in Scottish councils over the past 12 weeks. Absolutely fed up with Lords & parliamentarians telling us we lack imagination…as if that is all it takes Face with rolling eyes…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Labour has never been in the business of making Scotland prosperous as they knew affluent Scots would eventually turn their backs on them and their hatred of the SNP stems not from Policies but the fact their gravvy train was brought to an abrupt halt.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Wee Jaikie McCoalbunker. Elected on a pledge to “Do Less” in government.
    That worked.
    Scottish Labour are “doing less” so well, he has had to be thrust into the media because the actual Labour leadership in Scotland is dysfunctional, distrusted and largely invisible (this down to the electorate). Leotard, Murray and Baillie are ideological opposites and are redolent of past Leadership (Blair and Corbyn) posturing rather than having any vision for Scotland.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. hewn Mr McConnel ‘resurfaced’ on Good Morning Scotland a couple of weeks ago and then made his encore this weekend, I wondered why he had been resurrected. The answer is clear – he was once a teacher – so he must know everything about schools, mustn’t he? – and he was a former cabinet Secretary for Education – so he ‘knows’ what Mr Swinney ‘ought to be doing’. As the Labour benches at Holyrood does not have a great deal of talent, and, I think only the perpetually soor-faced Johan Lamont as a former teacher, whose visceral hatred of the SNP means that she cannot put together a coherent argument and just makes gratuitous insults, only McConnel was available to give a shred of credibility.

    BBC Scotland has committed itself to this politically – remind me why Ms Emily Maitlis was moved from Newsnight? – as have a number of the unionist newspapers and ‘experts’ like Professor Lindsay Paterson and Keir Bloomer. Jackson Carlaw with his ‘mums’ will continue to snipe and to push how good private schools are.

    Tomorrow, I suspect the Kaye Adams phone in will be about this topic.


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