Students have been let down by the Conservatives time and time again during this pandemic. It’s no surprise a wave of dread descended, when it was announced we’d have just one week to get home. If we want to see our family for the holidays, that is. As soon as the lockdown ends, on December 2nd, students are expected to get tested, and travel home before December 9th.
News outlets like the BBC and the Guardian are calling this a “mass exodus”, which sounds a lot scarier, and more accurate than the official term, the “student travel window”. It will be an exodus; you can count on that. Thousands, if not millions of people travelling across the country all at once. If that’s not a recipe for new infection, I don’t know what is. But we’re not here to talk about the name.
The issue is the Government’s habit of announcing things, and not creating any infrastructure to support their claims. Take the furlough scheme, which was renewed on the day it was due to expire, when many furloughed workers had already been fired in anticipation. Take the “100,000 tests per day by the end of April” goal, the failure of which is so major it doesn’t even need mentioning. This is going to be the same.
They will order universities to conduct mass testing and send all their students home, without bothering to help them achieve this. Where is this mass testing going to take place, Boris? Who’s going to conduct the tests?
According to some vice-chancellors, it would require 40 to 50 full time staff members per uni to conduct this testing. Where are they coming from? I doubt those that came up with this fabulous idea can answer that.
Another worry is assessments. Lots of students have scheduled assessments before the holidays, which will now have to be pushed back to who knows when. It’s not like it’s suddenly going to be safe in January just because it isn’t 2020 anymore.
But what worries me the most is not another useless attempt at curbing infection rates, or what effect this will have on our fragile learning environment. What worries me is that the government knows a month-long lockdown won’t work. They know that they can’t just force Coronavirus to do what they want, though some 10PM rules would make you think otherwise. They know that they are failing the public. The thing is, they don’t care.
We first went into lockdown on March 23rd. The peak wasn’t until the middle of April. With this as a basic outline, it would mean that cases wouldn’t start falling until the last week of this useless lockdown. I know that there is some evidence that the second peak has just happened, or is in progress, but we won’t be sure of that for at least another three weeks. Essentially, the government have failed us. They made countless promises and delivered on none of them. They do not care about us. A key example of this is Johnson’s fixation on the economy. Throughout lockdown, he has put the economy first, and human lives second. He opened up pubs and restaurants when it wasn’t safe to do so. He introduced Eat Out to Help Out. Then, he blamed us when the R number started to increase. For going to restaurants. Which he told us to do.
Johnson wanted to avoid a second lockdown for as long as possible, to save the economy. Now he’s lost the economy, thousands more will die, and it has to be much longer. I can’t say I’m surprised because he did this in March as well. And we’re in a worse situation now than we were in March.
So what do I say to the Conservatives, who clearly care more about their next paycheque than human lives? Well, in the words of Spitting Image’s very own Boris, I say, “What a bunch of idiots!”
Rosie Bowers is a Second Year Drama Student.
Featured Image from Pixabay