It is 08.00 am on Friday 4 December 2020, ninety-five days from the start of the school year.
The cheery things to report
Our primary school On the basis that ‘no news is good news’, mum and dad take a modicum of comfort from the assumption that our school continues to remain free of Covid 19. They would feel much better if there was a simple monthly update circular email from the school director to say exactly that. They are still searching very briefly once a week to find out where regular updates on all the primary schools in France are posted on-line, if indeed they are posted at all.
Taking virtual teaching to new levels? Last week’s assertion by one dedicated primary school teacher, that virtual teaching had a substantial positive impact upon her pupils, highlights the argument that delivering part of the core curriculum virtually should be taking place anyway, for the benefit of the pupils’ educational and technological development. So, while the driving force has been school closure, this teacher’s experience gives a new impetus to virtual teaching going mainstream.
Mum and dad therefore propose, (only to themselves at the moment!), that pupils, in rotation and for a standard proportion of the educational week, say 2 – 3 days, should have virtual teaching from home and the rest of the time in school. This would have two benefits: firstly, it would reduce the density of class sizes, so reduce the Covid 19 contact risk, and secondly, perhaps even more important in the longer term, give the pupils the time, space, opportunity and guidance to add virtual proficiency into their educational lexicon. Something to weigh over and find out more about with a view to raising it as an idea with their local school director.
The vaccine bandwagon rolls out its offerings: there is obviously now a huge effort underway to inform everybody, everywhere, that large scale multinational vaccination programmes will soon be coming your way, it is time to get ready, get booked in, line up for YOUR jabs and benefit from this brave new world), for example:
The not-so-cheery thing to report
This week’s vaccine announcements are, in principle, great news. It is also testimony to the dedication of all those involved: the many thousands of pharmaceutical technical staff, the many thousands of ordinary citizens who have been brave enough to be the first human guinea pigs, and the global ‘money-men’, prepared to sink many millions into Covid 19 vaccine development, enough to attract the 200 odd vaccine developers to throw their hats into the ring for jackpot recognition and rewards.
Yes, the news deserves all the plaudits, if we can all just but believe in it – believe that every approved vaccine will actually provide satisfactory long-term immunity, believe that the imminent vaccination tsunami will bring an end to the pandemic fatigue that we are all suffering from, believe that it is time to shout hooray from all the rooftops, to ring all the church bells, to enjoy week long festivals of street celebrations, to enjoy unrestrained socialising any time, any place, to enjoy …….
BUT,let’s just back up for a minute for the champagne gets opened – the WHO also highlighted this week, there is a fundamentally worrying problem that undermines the good news story – lack of public trust – ‘surveys have found half of people in some countries in Europe were unsure about taking vaccines against Covid-19’. They advised that ‘people should turn to trustworthy sources for information’. And, it is not just Europe – in the US this week, President-elect Joe Biden said ‘he would “be happy” to join former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton in getting the vaccine in public to prove it is safe’.
Mum and dad’s assessment: Hey, they are pleased and reassured in a strange sort of way. They now know that their own fundamental lack of trust actually chimes with half the population in some countries in Europe. It chimes with their views that they just cannot trust the pronouncements of:
What’s wrong with the vaccine story? In a nutshell, it is now the leading global marketing story. Automatically, this means most normal people would not consider it as a trustworthy source of information. It is certainly not about transparency, it feels much more like, ‘hey, wake up there, it’s time for us to sell, sell, sell’. There is far too much hype, and not nearly enough ‘trustworthy’ facts, delivered simply and with independently verified evidence.
This lack of transparency is either an oversight (???) or intentional – either way, it keeps the public informed ONLY about the likely (i.e. not yet fact) benefits and the mode of action, and ignorant about the latest known facts about the downside – levels of ineffectiveness, varying duration of immune response, risks to safety, and side-effects of the actual vaccine that your government has purchased for you, etc. It is just not possible today for the ordinary citizen to make a reasonably informed decision about whether to consent to vaccination or not. It is easy to predict that suffering from pandemic fatigue will force many to make an uninformed decision to consent, out of desperation to through off their Covid 19 shackles as soon as possible. A lot of questions need answered first, e.g.:
The French lockdown, 35 days on?
Here are the summary numbers for the daily new Covid 19 cases and deaths in week 5 of lockdown, as at 4 December
Mum and dad’s assessment of the numbers:
The total numbers, of both the cases and deaths, all appearing as new in the past five weeks, look really scary. They indicate on-going significant continuing Covid 19 transmission and deaths. It all looks set for a new Covid 19 resurgence in the second and third week of January 2021.
So, what about the big drop in new cases and the same big drop in the rate of Covid 19 testing?
This relationship is still going strong this week. Mum and dad have nothing new to add – they stand by last week’s assessment, i.e. if you don’t lay so many eggs (the tests) you don’t get so many chickens (positive test results).
And meanwhile The family plans are taking shape – only another two weeks to a delicious, well-earned break – not to have to think about school, just time devoted to doing their own thing in their own family way and not filling their time according to any external agenda. Ah, fourteen happy, sort-of-carefree private days to enjoy and to recharge their hearts and minds and souls. That will do nicely!
Finally, after 95 days of exposure to their primary school, are Mum and Dad still coping?:
In the last two issues, mum and dad got rid of their pent-up frustrations by dumping on Covid 19 and on the ‘men-in-charge’, for their level of mismanagement of their country’s pandemic response and their propensity to say and do things that make them totally untrustworthy and appear to completely ignorant (or worse, complacent) about the natural behaviour of the people and the virus.
So, this week, the WHO asks us all to ‘turn to trustworthy sources of information’. This is a classic ‘needle in the haystack’ hunt. At least this advice caused mum and dad to laugh hysterically and fall about in fits of giggles, all excellent therapy to relieve their Covid 19 stressed out minds for a while. Fortunately, we’re very lucky. We have a real, live, independent, trustworthy, Covid 19 expert. He is a true peoples’ champion: informing the public every day on the news channels; giving them the knowledge so that they are happy to become responsible for keeping themselves and loved ones safe; and, for deciding what they should or should not do about the new vaccine they are being offered.
YES, mum and dad are tired of Covid 19, are a bit stressed out, but nonetheless are coping very well.
By John Saunders
World Health Communication Associates (WHCA) & INSPIRIT Creatives UG NGO,
MediaWise and MediaFocusUK
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