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Most people who work in Britain’s National Health Service have children — whether those NHS workers are Doctors, Surgeons or other professionals, or are Hospital maintenance staff — the vast majority of them have children who live at home.
Which isn’t a problem when there’s no Coronavirus going ’round.
But during the first wave of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, many parents were forced to choose between going to work so they can pay their mortgage, or staying at home to care for their children. A terrifying choice for parents. And it created a terrifying problem for the NHS because at the time the national healthcare service needed the maximum number of staff — NHS staff were booking time off work to stay at home with their kids.
Fortunately, the NHS has a list of former employees and another list of people who had applied to work for the NHS but hadn’t yet been selected. This worked as a kind of pressure relief valve, although it couldn’t replace the vast number of Moms or Dads who took leave to care for their youngsters.
And that, friends, isn’t the best way to run a railroad!
Daycare Located Near the Workplace for Working Parents
Now that the second COVID-19 wave is starting, some jurisdictions in Canada, the U.S. and Australia are telling parents that school opening dates will be delayed, perhaps indefinitely. And I expect the same will happen in the UK over the coming weeks as the second wave hits with even greater impact than the first wave.
And again the NHS will have parents taking time off work to take care of their suddenly school-less children. Of course, as I wrote above, there are some, repeat some former NHS people and some future hires that the health service can access to alleviate staffing shortages during the second wave, but it won’t be enough to cover the shortfall.
It’s no wonder that healthcare workers were posting images of themselves on social media earlier this year to show us what it looks like to work 12-15 hours per day in a Hospital while wearing uncomfortable PPE and working in unusually crowded conditions with overtired co-workers. Not the ideal situation for healthcare outcomes.
What the NHS needs to do is to offer free daycare for parents and locate it within one block of the Hospital where one or both of the parents work.
Mom (or Dad) who works at the Hospital simply drops junior off at the daycare facility located across the street from the Hospital, and then picks up the child on the way home — for as many days as school remains closed. So obvious!
This should’ve started in the 1950’s when women began working away from home. And not only the NHS should’ve been doing this since then, but the National Healthcare Service serves as a poignant example for this discussion.
All medium-to-large companies should offer free daycare within one block of their factory, office tower, or retail shopping mall: It would be a major benefit to working parents, it would be a benefit to companies so they don’t have workers taking time off work to look after their kids, and it would be a benefit to society.
That’s why it should be mandated by legislation, backed by educators of preschool and school age children, and backed by companies.
Perhaps a tax break for companies that purchase and operate an appropriately-sized daycare centre across the street from their location is the way to get it done — Pronto!
It turns out that Coronavirus didn’t magically disappear during 3-months of lockdown, in fact, it seems to be back with a vengeance. And while treatment has improved, those already hit with the nasty virus may have permanent heart damage according to experts who now say that 2/3rds of all COVID-19 survivors suffer from decreased heart function.
Yes, the miracle drug (hopefully!) Remdesivir may turn COVID-19 from a killer disease into a week or two of self-isolation and flu-like symptoms (which is bad enough, but it beats dying from the Novel Coronavirus) however it doesn’t stop people from catching it. Remdesivir helps patients recover more quickly from the disease — especially the very ill — but nowhere in the literature that accompanies the medicine does it say that it prevents COVID-19.
And (you’ll hate this part) the present Coronavirus strain is merely one version of the larger Coronavirus family with newer versions appearing at irregular intervals. So my bet is that there will be another COVID crisis — perhaps with a more serious variant than the present SARS-CoV-2 (which most people know by the name COVID-19, or the Novel Coronavirus)
And now, cats, dogs and ferrets are dying from Coronavirus. Which is not great, as they roam everywhere and like to lick their friends and family to greet them — making pets potential carriers of the disease to unsuspecting humans and to other pets.
So, it looks like Coronavirus is going to be around for a long time; Yes, the treatment is improving, but it’s still a serious disease even with presently available treatments. And a vaccine seems like it will be ‘only a year or two away’ for the next five years — if you take my meaning.
With the “R Rate” Increasing and School Openings Looming, Now’s the Time to Rethink the UK Education System
According to Cambridge University, the R-rate (the rate at which a virus is retransmitted to others) is over 1 to 1, and may be as high as 1 to 1.04 in some parts of the UK.
And that means the UK is (temporarily) losing the battle against COVID-19 — no doubt due to the recently relaxed lockdown and with thousands of people visiting beaches, packed pubs, and other public spaces without the dual disciplines of mask-wearing and regular handwashing.
So, people, let’s get real. Coronavirus is here to stay. Which means it’s time to make some decisions. These aren’t the kinds of decisions that we can chew on for months;
These are ‘August decisions’ — which means these decisions must be made in August 2020. And these may well turn out to be life and death decisions so don’t shirk your responsibilities to your family and community.
In the Quest for Efficiency, Schools Have Been Getting Larger Every Decade (which is great for efficiency!) But it’s Also Great for Virus Retransmission
Maybe now is the time to reverse the economic efficiency mandate and do what’s best for children’s health, for family health, and for pet health as it may turn out that pets are major retransmitters of Coronavirus.
Think of a school system where all children in Grade I and Grade II attend their classes in one building, while Grades III and IV attend their school in a different location (maybe only blocks away for the convenience of parents who drop-off and pick-up their different-aged kids from school) and Grades V and VI in a different school — again, not too far apart; just let’s have them not breathing the same air.
- None of those proposed schools should have more than 100 pupils per location.
- Grades I and II (for example) plus teachers and vice-principal shouldn’t total more than 120 people.
- That keeps the cohort of potential COVID-19 infections to a small number of people.
- And similar applies for other grades; III and IV in another school, V and VI in another location, and grades VII and VIII in another building, etc.,
- Gymnasiums could be in a 5th (nearby) location, and employ a reservation system.
YES! Schools would become more numerous, much smaller and more quickly built!
If China can build two Coronavirus hospitals in one week, the UK should be able to build two 100-pupil schools per county, per week, in the UK.
All that needs doing is to source the land and plunk some fast-build structures in place designed to hold 120-people.
If you know anything about construction challenges — that’s about the smallest challenge ever offered to large construction firms! — especially if they decide to use ‘modular’ design, and much of the construction could be done in factories that already produce construction-site oriented buildings or other temporary buildings.
Companies all over the UK could be building these structures during August and deliver them in time for the beginning of the school year. ‘On-time and On-budget’ please!
High School kids might need to wait a few weeks for their buildings to be delivered, but nothing that would stop them from completing their studies by June 2021.
Parents, School Districts and Various Levels of Government: Now is NOT the Time to be Timid; Now is the Time to Leap Forward to a Decentralized School Buildings Model!
There are some great school buildings in the UK — some with a brilliant history. Sir Isaac Newton was schooled in the UK, for example.
And there’s no doubt that special buildings should be preserved as an entire generation switches over to small cohort school buildings. Such valuable buildings could become museums, City Hall office spaces, office space for MP’s and doctors/dentists, etc., or be carefully preserved and listed — but leased to companies for office space.
But for now, keeping kids safe should be the main concern.
Decentralizing the present school buildings/location model might be the way to dramatically lower the R-rate and simultaneously prevent the UK economy from failing during future waves of Coronavirus (or other virus) infections throughout the country.
And we can do that by keeping cohort sizes small among school-aged children by educating them in small, relatively inexpensive, modular school buildings, in handy locations for parents and kids in each and every neighbourhood throughout the UK.
As COVID-19 appears to be with us indefinitely, it’s time to build new and smaller schools and thereby reduce future retransmission of infectious diseases.
Please step forward Captain Tom Moore, for you are to be knighted by Her Royal Highness, Elizabeth II, daughter of King George VI, and holder of the British Crown, for your sacrifice and commitment to defend the United Kingdom and The Commonwealth of Nations in time of war, aided by the Allied Powers, and for your dedication to bringing a fine family into the world following the war and for working in the public domain since your military service ended, and for raising over £32 million sterling for your chosen charity, NHS Charities Together, to assist those stricken with illness.
Your life represents a series of stellar achievements on behalf of the United Kingdom and for those reasons you are being knighted today.
- Thank you for a lifetime of service to the United Kingdom, it’s military, and it’s citizens. You and others of your generation have set an exemplary standard for all Britons to follow throughout their lives.
- Thank you for risking your life during a time of vicious military conflict to defend freedom everywhere.
- And thank you… even at 99-years of age… for taking great strides towards arming your National Health Service to meet the unprecedented healthcare demand as they provide emergency and extended care for hundreds of thousands of people impacted by the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic.
Please allow me to offer you the warmest welcome into the family of British nobility, as a knighted citizen of the realm, by recognizing your meritocratic service to the United Kingdom. Your family is now part of our family.
With this, my father’s sword, I declare thee, Captain Sir Tom Moore, a Knight of the Realm, in God’s name.