The Omicron threat: Stop this foot-dragging, penny-pinching muddle

The government response to the pandemic in schools continues to be a foot-dragging, penny-pinching muddle. As the Omicron variant threatens to take hold, Geoff Barton implores ministers to do better

The pandemic has given rise to a host of new words and phrases which have rapidly become part of everyday speech: “Social distancing”, “lateral flow tests”, and “nasal swabs”, to name but a few.

The latest, unfortunately, is Omicron – the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet, and now the name of a new Covid variant first reported in South Africa and labelled as a “variant of concern”.

In a press conference on Saturday (November 27), the prime minister announced that face masks will be compulsory in shops and on public transport in England.

This was swiftly followed by an email to schools and colleges on Sunday (November 28) advising that face masks should be worn in communal areas for staff, visitors and pupils in year 7 and above (DfE, 2021).

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