The lockdown has mostly ended here insofar as much as it can end. Things won’t return to normal until there’s a vaccine but shops are allowed to open and people can go for holidays. Nevertheless our life hasn’t really changed. I’m still working from home. Ben is still working from home. The kids just finished the year with their online school last Friday and summer holidays have begun but as Ben and I are both working we have no plans to go anywhere.
I visited Marks & Spencer on Saturday morning as I have been doing for the past couple of months and it was noticeably busier. Union Street was busier too. We need to be extra cautious now. According to the latest COVID study symptom data new cases in the UK are no longer falling. The virus is still with us and transmission is likely to increase again if we’re not careful. We do not want to lockdown our economy again and the only way I can see to avoid this is to follow the South Korean model as much as possible.
I recommend downloading the COVID symptom tracker app if you haven’t already. The more data we have on this disease the better off we’ll all be. It only takes a few seconds to submit data to the app. I do it a couple of times a week. You can also submit data on behalf of someone else if you know someone who doesn’t have access to a phone. There are currently over 4 million people contributing to the study.
Most people in Scotland are wearing face masks now which is good to see. It’s really a very small price to pay for a functioning economy and if they can prevent future lockdowns they’re worth it. We should have mandated their use back in early March. I have got used to wearing mine now.
I’m still running everyday. Last week I ran along the River Dee and was tempted to jump in for a swim. It looked clean and inviting but I have no idea what the water quality is like. Does anyone know? If not the River Dee, does anyone know of any good outdoor swimming spots in Aberdeenshire?
I went for a little paddle. Next time I might take my togs and go for a dip.
One of our friends sends her daughter to a private school in Aberdeen – the International School – and last weekend I got to hear all about her education over the past few months. I was very impressed. Back in February the school started to prepare for online learning. They saw what was happening in the world and made preparations in case schools had to close here. When schools did close the following month they were ready. The school closed on a Wednesday and any pupils who did not have access to a computer at home were given a Chromebook on loan the very next day. Online teaching began immediately and covered everything from wellbeing and social contact with teachers and other pupils as well as live lessons taught via video. They had four hours a day everyday of live online lessons with teachers except on Wednesdays which was designated a study day. Their education has not suffered as a result of the pandemic and this has created a gulf between state-educated pupils whose education has fallen drastically behind their private school counterparts. I am usually the biggest proponent of state education having gone through it myself but the failure of state schools to embrace technology and continue with the job of education has been a huge disappointment for me.
People may find online schooling frightening or maybe just a bit strange but if we think of it as a form of distance education it’s nothing new. Distance education has been an important part of Australia’s history because of its dispersed population over a vast geographical area. The first distance education began in 1909 in Australia and by 1931 1.5% of all primary school children were educated in this way.
Australia can claim to be the first country to have shown in a systematic way, and on a large scale, that it is possible to provide by correspondence a compete elementary education for children who have never been to school.
We are lucky today to have techonology which can provide a much richer and more interactive distance learning experience and the International School in Aberdeen has fully embraced this.
Schools are planning to reopen here after the summer break in August but it’s looking like it will be a third of the time with one group of students going on Monday – Wednesday, the second group going on Thursday – Monday, and then the third group going on Tuesday – Thursday, at which point it starts again with the first group. I think it would be much better for the pupils if schools fully embraced distance learning so that these children get a full-time education rather than just 1/3 of the time.