It’s a school, Jim, but not as we know it

We’ve learned over the past few months that schools are about much more than learning. The social interactions that they provide and the relationships that they nurture are essential to our children’s social development and to their mental health and wellbeing. And yes, they teach stuff, too. They also allow many parents to go to work. Or to get work done from home.

Consequently, it’s hugely important that we try to find a way to re-open our schools in September to all young people. Especially given that we seem to have found ways to open pubs. But only if – and, to be honest, it’s a massive if – we can do so safely.

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My first academic paper. And it’s perhaps not what you’d expect.

Overcoming the Regulatory Hurdles for the Production of Hand Sanitizer for Public Health Protection: The UK and US Academic Perspective is an academic paper exploring the issues faced by researchers at the University of Bristol as they sought to manufacture hand sanitiser for use by public services during the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes a perspective from those doing the same in the United States

The Bristol academics making the hand sanitiser, who are colleagues of my wife, kindly provided me with a massive supply of hand sanitiser for the school where I’m a governor, which allowed the school to remain open to its most vulnerable young people. I helped to write this paper as a ‘thank you’ for their efforts. It’s published in the American Chemical Society’s journal Chemical Health and Safety. Read the paper online or get the PDF here.

The key to unlocking the lockdown

I think it’s fair to say that we’re all getting a bit fed up with the lockdown. But like most people, I can see why we’re doing it and am happy to play my part in keeping people safe. If some of the newspapers are to be believed, though, things will be back to normal within days. I don’t think for one moment that this is the case. But it does raise the valid question of how, when the time is right, we’ll go about unlocking the lockdown. Continue reading

Every day’s a Tuesday

The COVID-19 outbreak and the current lockdown appear to be taking their toll on my ability to measure time. Natalie put it best the other day, when she announced that, essentially, ‘every day’s a Tuesday’. The hours, days and weeks roll together into one long period of foggy uncertainty. Thankfully, though, I’m slowly finding ways to manage my temporal confusion and to keep things on track. Continue reading

Improvise, adapt and (hopefully) overcome

As the COVID-19 lockdown in the UK continues, it’s starting to look like our shared efforts are helping to mitigate the impact of the virus. But still the disease has taken, and will continue to take, its heavy toll. I’m heartened, though, by our ability to come together at this time of crisis. By our ability to improvise, to adapt and (hopefully) to overcome. Continue reading

Taking the world as it is

I’ve seen quite a lot of speculation over the last few days – some of it, I’m ashamed to say, from people who are related to me – that it’s time to stop putting the economy at risk for the sake of protecting the elderly and the vulnerable from COVID-19. We need, they claim, to send the kids back to school. And to allow everyone under the age of fifty to get back to work. Continue reading