Over the past fortnight we have, like all newspapers, reported on the welcome return of some year groups to school.
Many teachers have done an outstanding job of trying to minimise the damage the lockdown has caused to pupils’ education.
But even the best have been fighting a losing battle — online schooling can only ever be a poor second to physical schooling. And that is without even considering the importance to childrens’ development of the socialising aspect of schools.
Some children have not been so fortunate and have received next to no education in recent months. This divide is no less true for Jewish schools as it is for others.
There is, as a consequence, a looming national educational crisis. Divides which were already there are increasing and new ones are emerging. The gradual reopening of schools is welcome but it is piecemeal and nothing like sufficient to deal with the legacy this crisis will leave.
Instead of simply accepting it as yet another consequence of the pandemic, we need to treat it like a national emergency, in much the same way as the threat to the NHS was treated at the start of the coronavirus crisis.
Children are three weeks away from the start of months of uninterrupted summer holiday. After months of lockdown, that is simply ridiculous. We need a nationwide system of summer classes.
These need not be in the same buildings, or with the same roster, as existing schools. The Nightingale hospitals showed what can be done when imagination, coupled with determination, is enabled by government.
It is no use saying it can’t be done. It can and it must. And if the government refuses to act, our community should do so on its own. We have the people, we have the children, we have— if we use our imagination — the buildings. What we need now is the willpower.