Testing times to come

THE summer holidays are over and a new school year has begun.

Of course, that is not quite the milestone event it is elsewhere in the world because Guernsey’s schools managed to fully reopen back in June, following a temporary Covid-induced closure.

But while local schoolchildren were able to receive half a term of face-to-face education before breaking up for the holidays, a large proportion of children in the UK and elsewhere have not been able to attend school in person since March.

Even now they’re back, their educational experience this term is likely to feel different to Guernsey’s. As well as enhanced hygiene practices, such as cleaning hands more often, a range of preventative measures have been recommended, including wearing face masks in communal areas, separating pupils into ‘bubble’ study groups, maintaining social distancing where possible and avoiding large gatherings.

And it is not just schools that are only now attempting to return to business as usual in the UK.

A new government ad campaign is urging people to return to their workplaces as prolonged homeworking is said to be damaging city centres.

But despite these moves to return to pre-pandemic life, the Covid-19 crisis is far from over.

On Friday, the UK recorded 1,940 new infections, the highest number since 30 May.

Worldwide, the virus is believed to have killed at least 880,000 people so far.

In France, just days after reopening schools, 22 had to be shut down due to Covid-19 outbreaks.

By contrast, things in Guernsey have felt so normal here for the past three months, aside from travel restrictions, that it is easy to forget that the planet is still in the grip of a global pandemic.

But we must not be complacent. The Isle of Man has just had its first confirmed case for 109 days and Guernsey will almost certainly follow suit at some point, especially as the pressure is mounting to further relax border controls.

There is much speculation of a second wave arising in the coming months as the traditional cold and flu season approaches. The large number of students due to return home to Guernsey this Christmas from universities across the UK could prove a particularly challenging period.

The future is uncertain and there are testing times ahead – which is all the more reason to make the most of the comparative freedom we are able to currently enjoy.

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