Despite it being bitterly cold this week as we have our coldest week of the winter, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic. In the same way we know that spring is just around the corner, better times for us all are coming into sight.
Our world-leading vaccination programme is on target so that by next week, we will have given the first vaccine dose to all 15 million people who are either over 70, in care homes, frontline health and care workers, or clinically vulnerable. It is so nice to hear each time when someone states that they have either had their vaccination or received their letter giving them their slot. Every single person vaccinated is one little step nearer to getting back to a much more normal life. Through the late winter and spring it will be the turn of all the over 50s, meaning that all people most likely to become unwell or hospitalised will be well protected.
All eyes are on the 22nd of this month when Boris set’s out the roadmap of opening up society again. It is right that getting schools back open for all pupils is the priority, although we shouldn’t forget that about 15% of pupils have still been attending this term and teaching staff have been doing a great job in challenging circumstances.
A year is a very long time in the lives of children and teenagers and it’s hard to imagine growing up in the strange way that life has been lived since last March. For the vast majority, Coronavirus has not posed them a direct risk but they have had a huge amount of disruption to their lives.
I therefore welcome that the Conservative Government has begun an ambitious catch-up programme, designed to ensure that no young person is left behind. They’ve pledged another £300 million of catch-up money for every level of education, from early years to schools and colleges, on top of the £1 billion announced last year. Our children’s futures may be influenced by their experience through Covid, but they mustn’t be disadvantaged by it.
Councillor Duncan Crow, Leader of Crawley Borough Council Conservative Group
10th February 2021