The direction of travel out of Covid restrictions is now clear. Absent a dramatic change in the data, from 19th July we can expect a rapid return to “normality” in most aspects of our daily lives.
It is clear however that this is not because we have “eradicated” Covid. Indeed the number of cases, imbued by the greater infectiousness of the Delta variant and by the easing of lockdown, are increasing and are likely to rise still further.
We are able to return towards normality for one reason: a vaccine that substantially breaks the link between Covid and hospitalisation and which, thanks to the tireless efforts of so many, has been successfully rolled out to a huge swathe of the population including the vast majority of those in the most at risk categories.
As a result we can ease the restrictions without seeing the same huge increase in hospitalisations and indeed fatalities that accompanied previous waves.
Every year many of us have a flu vaccine. It protects against the same (albeit evolved and weaker) strain of flu that killed millions in the 1919 pandemic. It still can have devastating effects today but we have, through medical science, learned to try and contain its consequences. In the same way I suspect Covid, in evolving forms, will be with us for a long time but we are learning how to prevent it dominating our lives. In doing so, easing restrictions, will help address many other consequences of Covid – including its impact on jobs, education and the economy.
We can look forward with greater confidence. A great example of this was a hugely positive visit to Forest School last week which is taking the very welcome step of going Co-Ed, with girls joining from September, for the first time in its 67 year history.
Mr Straw and his team have invested hugely in improving the fabric and appearance of the school, turning it into a light, positive, modern learning environment. This seems to be reflected in the students.
For those Horsham residents who remember the school from earlier days I would really encourage them to look at the video the school produces showing its environment and ethos (www.theforestschool.com). The (unscripted!) pupil voices to camera really show confidence and positivity as well as the opportunities available.
We discussed current issues impacting young people, how agencies are working together to provide support and improvements that could be implemented. A supportive environment is what every school in Horsham strives to achieve and it was great to see the progress being made by Forest across the board.
Photo Credit: Jeremy Quin met with Ian Straw, Head at Forest.