Both of my parents died before their time from inhaling harmful toxins. My mother from cancer caused by smoking and my father (roofer) from asbestos. Both failed because of governments that put the interests of lobbyists ahead of public health. That’s why I’m fighting for clean, Covid-free air in schools and elsewhere.
In August 2020, I challenged Norma Foley to reopen schools based on science measures including: reducing community transmission, testing, tracing, ventilation, reduced class sizes, distancing and mandatory masks.
Two years later, against the backdrop of a data blackout, a more contagious variant, waning and weakened immunity to repeated infections, we are bringing children back to school with no protective measures. And monkeypox, which White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci as “a pervasive risk for children.”
Since my last article on ‘personal responsibility’ I have been inundated with messages, mostly from parents of clinically vulnerable and disabled children concerned about getting them back to schools without Covid protections. Many parents, myself included, are exhausted from the constant negotiations with schools, especially as mask requirements and all Covid protections have been jettisoned. Many continue to fight for hepa filters and parents report that red CO2 monitors are being ignored (breaking health and safety codes) since Micheál Martin unilaterally downgraded Covid to flu.
It’s up to parents to assess the risk, but if we are not allowed to know if the exposed child sitting next to us who was ill for a few days has Covid and is possibly still contagious, then how can we? Nits we need to know about but a highly contagious neurotropic disease that can cause organ damage, disability and death? This is an ecumenical matter.
Many parents, sometimes encouraged by psychiatrists who should know better, interpret the government’s lifting of public health protections as outside their control and so it’s best to succumb to the “inevitability” of infection. For many, it is becoming increasingly difficult to avoid exposure to Covid due to financial or health precariousness, but infection is not conducive to mental health because; a) psychiatric disorders are common post-Covid sequelae whose risk increases with each infection and b) mental and physical health are inextricably linked.
Playing one off against the other instead of standing up for both is harmful. Speaking recently about the cumulative effects of repeated infections and negative long-term neurological and other health consequences, Mike Ryan of the World Health Organization warned: “You don’t want to get this disease once if you can avoid it, but you don’t want to get it four times, secure.”
I know children who have been infected three times within six months. Previously healthy children are now developing long-Covid, asthma, diabetes and cognitive dysfunction. Inclusion in the ranks of the “clinically vulnerable”.
Unless parents are willing to say, “We do not consent to exposing our children to Covid infection at school,” our consent is considered tacit.
Actions taken by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and WHO to prevent the spread of infection in schools include reducing community transmission, vaccination, distancing, masks, improved ventilation, testing, sequencing, contact tracing and isolation.
Ireland has either stalled or taken these back. dr Hans Kluge, the WHO’s Europe director, recently urged countries like Ireland to “restart containment efforts” and adopt a Vaccine Plus strategy. He warned, “Waiting for the fall to act will be too late.”
The Children’s Rights Alliance told me they support WHO’s Covid protections in schools. I spoke to one of Ireland’s leading children’s rights advocates, Gareth Noble, who said: “I am concerned that we are creating a culture where we believe that Covid infections and outbreaks in schools are inevitable. You are not. We significantly reduce the risk to our children when we follow basic public health advice such as wearing masks, contact tracing, air filtration and other measures. Any WHO expert advice must be considered and implemented. Ignoring it would be negligent.”
Interim Chief Medical Officer Professor Breda Smyth has to explain why she has not incorporated WHO guidelines into her advice to the government.
In anticipation of staff and pupil illness caused by new variants in the autumn, English education unions have called for urgent Covid measures to prevent widespread disruption in schools. Irish unions: ciúnas.
I’ve scoured the internet to see if any schools have managed to prevent outbreaks. I found one – Abrome in Texas. how did it do that By ignoring politicians and following science.
Acknowledging that Covid is in the air, mitigation measures included daily testing, mandatory indoor and outdoor FFP2/3 masks in close contact during the surges, distancing, distance learning when cases were extremely high, outdoor learning opportunities and hepa- Filtration in every classroom. When CO2 levels exceeded 800, the rooms were evacuated and classes continued in sheltered outdoor areas, which were also used for dining. All are vaccinated.
Abrome’s ethos is that of inclusion. A Covid-safe school is accessible to all. The feeling of collective compassion towards Mé-Féinism.
Just as I would challenge institutional racism, I will not participate in a system that discriminates against disabled, clinically vulnerable children and those with clinically vulnerable families. Without Covid protection, they are deprived of their right to school education – indefinitely. The Children’s Ombudsman told me: “A children’s rights-based approach must inform all decisions related to Covid.”
My son never met his grandparents because the government puts profit before public health. I think it’s happening again with Covid.
I can’t go to Texas but I will try to create a Covid safe educational facility here in Galway. All I need is a couple of 14-year-olds – and a teacher.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/our-children-are-at-grave-risk-of-covid-as-state-puts-profit-ahead-of-public-health-41893293.html Our children are at great risk of Covid as the state puts profit before public health