Childhood & Learning, Social Change

COVID-19 Open Letter to Headteacher

European governments are taking increasingly stringent measures to address the threat of the Coronavirus. Only the UK appears to be dragging its feet, delaying the inevitable with potentially huge implications. I’m writing to the head of my children’s school, asking her to add her voice to pressure our government into taking more decisive action, quickly. Feel free to use this as a template.

Dear Head,

Thank you for your recent email, we really appreciate the reassurance and know that you and your staff are doing the best you can. 

Following government guidelines is sensible and we understand that it is currently the only option open to public organisations with an obligation to children, such as schools. Also, as an educator your top priority is for children’s education not to be needlessly interrupted, and we value that.

However, given the fast-changing situation and exponential rise in infections and deaths, we would ask you respectfully but urgently to add your voice to a call for quicker, more decisive action. The growing consensus among European governments is to implement social distancing; it is the only effective measure to flatten the curve and prevent our healthcare system from being completely overwhelmed. 

Just for comparison, my native Germany has closed schools, church services and the like. Confirmed number of cases is about 4,600. One might think that with only 1,140 confirmed cases, the UK has a bit of time before having to implement such drastic measures. However, the UK’s mortality rate far outstrips Germany, with 21 deaths compared to Germany’s 9. That’s 1.8% (UK) over against 0.19% (Germany). Why is the UK’s death toll almost 10 times higher than Germany’s?

News from Germany suggest that a far greater proportion of the population have been tested, meaning they have a much more accurate picture of the number of cases than at have in the UK. Standard of living and healthcare are roughly equivalent in both countries so we should be seeing a similar mortality rate. If we use Germany’s mortality rate as a starting point to estimate UK Coronavirus cases, we arrive at over 11,000 cases – ten times the current number, and the true figure will be even higher because even in Germany, a significant number of cases will remain undetected.

Far from having time, being “behind” Germany, France and other countries, it seems we are sleepwalking into this crisis, and I would urge you to follow the lead of over 200 scientists who in an open letter have called for more stringent  and effective measures immediately.  

As parents, we will do anything we can to help our children’s education continue, but our first priority must be lives of our whole population. Therefore, please could we ask you to speak out in whatever way possible, putting pressure on the government to act more quickly and decisively. 

With kind regards in these unprecedented times