An Open Letter to the Irish Government

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To the Irish Government:

I have watched the ‘return to school’ plans develop over the past week with increasing horror and dismay and am now writing to ask you what the actual fuck the government thinks it’s doing.

The HSE’s guidelines indicate a 2-meter, masked distance between individuals is the minimum safe requirement, and that participants in indoors events are to be limited.

Evidence from the United States (see the Georgia overnight camp breakout) indicates that children are not immune to either acquiring or passing on Covid-19.

Covid-19 cases in Ireland are on the rise with some 10% of those cases coming from untraceable sources.

Pubs, where social distancing is difficult to enforce, are not opening.

What part of any of these facts could possibly indicate to the government that an unmasked, 1-meter-distant, 30+ person classroom/hundreds in a building, return to school is in any way safe?

How on earth can this government possibly take the stance that all children must return to school unless they themselves are extremely high risk, regardless of how high risk the people they live with are? How dare you potentially put a child in a situation where they might bring home a disease that could kill their mother? Their father? Their beloved grandparents? How *dare* you?

Did you, as a child, experience the death of a classmate? A teacher? Because I did. Seven times. Do you want to know their names? Do you want to know their ages? Do you want to know the way they died? Because I can tell you. I can tell you, because these things leave scars that last forever.

None of them were in circumstances I could possibly affect. Right now, though, we *can* affect them. How dare you force children into such dangerous scenarios, or force their parents to withdraw them from school with no guarantee of a school place in a post-Covid, vaccinated world? How dare you put parents in a position of having to choose between their children’s safety or their long-term education?

How *dare* you?

How dare you dismiss the health and well-being of the Irish people in order to create a pretense of things being Back To Normal?

Things are not normal. They *will* not be normal until there is a widely-disseminated vaccine. This government must recognize that fact and adapt to it rather than try to force a veneer of normalcy over a world that is wrestling with an unprecedented disease playing out in an unprecedented social structure.

Forcing children back to school will kill people. Those deaths will be on your hands. Even if you don’t feel it, the children who bring home disease to their families will. How dare you even risk the possibility that a child might have to live with that guilt for the rest of their lives? How dare you?

And even if our children come through it with no deaths–and they won’t–we don’t yet know all the ramifications of this disease in the long term. What we do know is already horrific. How dare you risk our children on your convenience? On the conviction that the economy must carry on as before? It needn’t.

A government’s job is to safeguard its people and to provide services that individuals cannot easily provide to themselves. It is the duty of this government to pay people to stay home so they and their children are not at risk, until science and medical technology have caught up to the leading edge of this horrible disease, surpassed it, and overcome it.

How dare you behave as if anything else could be of any importance?

Do your goddamn jobs. Put the health and well-being of the Irish people first and foremost, beyond any other consideration, and don’t force parents into impossible choices.

Furiously,
Catherine E Murphy

1 Comment


  1. Oh, lord. I was hoping other countries were being more sensible about this. :(

    Our district is at least offering an online option — we’ve signed up for that but as the local schools are pretty cray at the best of times, are looking at full-on homeschooling as well (I have the luxury of that being an option.) I know it’s frustrating, I know school is a big deal for a lot of kids and their parents, I know schools being closed is a mess and will require a bunch of flailing around and social services.

    But *zero* of the problems will be made better by people around those kids *dying*.

    Arghhhhhh.

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