Times Comment 18/6

paul martin
6 min readJun 18, 2020


There are 4 jobs on Aberdeen CIty Council’s website: Finance & Commercial Director £75k per annum Casual Teacher, Secondary (zero hours) Chargehand Driver £20k per annum Relief Mental Health Officer (zero hours)

->Thanks …. it’s a long commute. But I think the numbers illustrate the local poor relation feeling. Aberdeen Council is always on about it being low down in the Local Authority grant listing and had to go large with a City Deal that some say they mis-invested in a new Exhibition Centre and Cruise Liner Terminal (to-be). Obviously Edinburgh has a spare bridge, or two and an expensive tram system — so we all make mistakes.

? All the 2m distancing & H+S stuff involved in schools back would imply the UK is nervous about a second wave of coronavirus. Or should be judging by the contents of this (excellent) article

CarolineBuck: But the Chinese were actually welding people in to their apartment complexes to confine them in Wuhan. A lot of commentators took that as them just being mad and totalitarian, but it’s not improbable that they knew something about how coronavirus is spread which they didn’t transmit to the WHO (initially they claimed that Covid-19 couldn’t be spread from human to human and then that transmission was at loe R numbers — but there’s no point in welding people into their homes unless the disease is actually capable of being caught on contact i.e. is contagious). The best explanation for the fat tailed graphs of case numbers post-lockdown is that the virus behaves differently in different individuals both in terms of severity of disease and infectivity. I suspect that in the majority of infected people, not much virus is produced, so not many other people are infected, But super-spreaders produce lots of virus and infect loads of others. Super spreaders occur at an unknown but low percentage in the population. but are much more likely to be encountered in high density cities than in the countryside, because in cities any individual meets more people. It is quite believable that the virus is contagious (and can be picked up from supermarkets or casual contact of any description) when produced in large numbers by such a super spreader. This explains why cities are much worse affected and why the case numbers did not drop by 85% when human-human contact fell by that amount in the UK post-lockdown. If the disease is actually contagious when virus is shed in enough numbers by a super-spreader, without a vaccine, there is no appropriate control strategy other than exposure leading to immunity (however long that lasts).

“despite BLM demonstations and desperate shoppers”

The former clearly, in the main, wore masks. And shoppers were well warned and presumably careful.

And no deaths for some time

I just checked Worldometer and for recent days China indeed has no deaths, as have a few other countries. However RoW have 6000+ two days ago & yesterday 5000+ ….. life in the old virus still

What would have happened if doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals had said sorry: I’m not coming to work the environment is unsafe?

…… A few less deaths, of staff. Remember the fuss about PPE ?

In Scotland another Social Care member of staff died yesterday.

I can sympathise with people not wanting to rush to the front without testing, in some cases proper cleaning, etc etc

Would you hurry, doubt it

The trouble is that they were the backbone of after school etc but then their pay drifted south. In Scotland they had to practically go on strike to get a pay rise whereas MPs/MSPs got 11%

It cannot have escaped notice that there are NQTs, TeachFirst, Probationers without jobs, never mind the social media abuse and self appointed grandees who are setting up Organisations demanding that schools take their kids back.

I can see people not wanting to enter teaching as a profession due to its undervaluing #visciouscircle

Maybe Peebles infrastructure. Using Zoom in North Aberdeen is fraught with freezing and judging by radio show phone ins and TV video the network is overloaded.

and there are no hours where you know the teachers will be there or not there to answer questions.

The US academic system of Office Hours seems attractive but in the current scenario where young teachers are sharing flats with friends or family I can envisage issues. However should or could be addressed when schools return in August if there was a will

Is there a strict cut-off in terms of effectiveness?

“No, it is just a matter of reducing risk with increased physical distance. The further you stand away from someone, the fewer droplets you will be exposed to when someone sneezes or coughs in your direction. 1 m only prevents you from being exposed to the largest of droplets, 2 m reduces your exposure but doesn’t make it zero risk. In fact, droplets smaller than the diameter of a human hair can be carried over more than 2 m, and the very smallest droplets, often referred to as aerosols, can remain airborne for minutes or hours in a room and travel over larger distances. The distances travelled also depend on the temperature and humidity, and if there are air currents, e.g. a breeze outside or a fan inside. So, the guidelines on physical distances are not strict cut-offs, they are just guidance and recognise that the distance the droplets are carried depends on a number of factors. via sciencemediacntre

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Seems like a good idea: 1-to-1 teaching, money for struggling graduates, etc I am sure the “Good Lord” will be pleased @darynsimon

France has a social distancing rule also according to my copy of the Evening Express of May 26. In the picture it looks closer to 2 than 1.5.

The #1 job, at this time is Health & Safety; a death of staff or pupil rips the heart out of a school. Heads need to proceed with care, “negatively” or otherwise

My problem with Morag’s original tweet was the selective use of data to push her argument that all is sweetness and light.

No child under the age of 14 has died of Covid in Scotland.

Most kids have been locked up and shielded for the past few weeks, not a fair test, really. There have been cases of children dying in the US, if a comment on another ToL channel is to be believed. There are kids with Covid in hospital.

No teacher in any of the hub schools has died of Covid

There are few kids in hub schools and strict rules. ONS has provided data that shows Teachers have died from COVID

how children are returning to school successfully in Europe

It was mid April that kids in Denmark lining up, socially distant, were shown returning to school on our TVs. If it reduced in 3 weeks so be it. In France, as I said the photo in our local paper shows of the order of 2m separation. In both cases it is clear there was trepidation on the part of the authorities as there is here now with our mass return in August.

My problem is that Morag & others (without responsibilty) are picking and choosing data and decrying the cautious approach advocating haste. Such is reminiscent of the transfer of patient from the NHS to Care Homes. If the precautionary principle is the way forward for Climate Change it should be the approach used to protect our kids.