Newslinks for Monday 10th August 2020

Coronavirus 1) Unions agree to reopen schools but insist teachers must be safe

“Teaching unions committed themselves yesterday to reopening schools next month but they remain at loggerheads with the government over routine coronavirus testing and tracing. The National Education Union (NEU) echoed a call by Anne Longfield, the children’s commissioner for England, for a robust testing system to help teachers and older pupils in secondary schools. It said that it should be in place for all schools and colleges. Nick Gibb, the schools minister, has ruled out testing for children or teachers who do not have symptoms. Millions of children are to start school in the first week of September. For many it will be their first time in the classroom for almost six months.” – The Times

  • “Make virus tests routine for teachers and pupils”, says children’s commissioner – The Times
  • Unions plan for schools to teach on a “week on week off” basis – Daily Telegraph
  • Teaching unions try to “sabotage” school reopening plan with “impossible list” of 200 safety demands – Daily Mail

>Today:

Coronavirus 2) Police stop thousands for failing to cover up

“Thousands of passengers have been stopped for not wearing facemasks on public transport but only a small number of them fined. British Transport Police spoke to 28,964 people without a face covering between July 13 and 25. Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act showed that 1,605 were told to leave the network and 33 penalty notices were issued, according to the Daily Telegraph. Coverings became compulsory on transport networks on June 15 and police can issue a £100 fine to offenders, halved if paid within a fortnight. Although there are exemptions for age, health and disability the figures will raise fears that passengers are ignoring guidance.” – The Times

Coronavirus 3) Half of Preston coronavirus cases in the under-30s

“Young people are fuelling the coronavirus outbreak in Preston with almost half of new cases reported last week found in people aged under 30. Localised restrictions have been imposed on the Lancashire city. A ban on households gathering in each other’s homes and gardens was effective from midnight on Friday after the number of infections rose dramatically. In the week up to August 5, there were 71 new cases of coronavirus confirmed in Preston, a city of 140,000 people. This was a doubling of the infection rate the previous week from about 21 cases per 100,000 to more than 42 per 100,000. The Times has learnt that 47 per cent of new infections were recorded in those aged under 30.” – The Times

  • More than 1,000 test positive in biggest rise for six weeks – The Times
  • Daily death count could be scrapped – Daily Telegraph
  • Battered travel industry urges UK to rethink Covid-19 quarantine policy – The Guardian
  • Scientists in “spat” over whether to infect people in Coronavirus vaccine trials – Daily Telegraph
  • One in three UK firms expects to cut jobs by autumn, poll finds – The Guardian

Coronavirus 4) Landlords tell ministers: let’s go halves on rent bills

“Landlords, shops and restaurants have joined forces to ask the Government to step in and pay commercial rents to help them survive the coronavirus pandemic. Trade bodies have been in talks with ministers about proposals that would see the Government fund up to 50pc of rent and services charges owed by businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. These “Property Bounce Back” grants would be targeted at businesses worst affected by lockdown. It is estimated that about £3bn of rent owed to commercial property landlords for the six months to September will not have been paid, laying bare the acute pressures faced by landlords and tenants.” – Daily Telegraph

Phillips: World’s poor are crying out for democracy

“The summer of 2020 is providing ample proof that whatever dissatisfactions we in the West have with our own governments, there are millions who would risk death to live under their aegis. It will no doubt be argued that Lebanon’s real problem is poverty fuelled by elite greed, and that the thousands of migrants who have risked the dangerous Channel crossing are fleeing wars we started. But Lebanon was not poor 40 years ago, when its GDP per capita outpaced that of its neighbours by more than a half, yet it was equally marked by the corruption that has sparked protests in recent days.” – The Times

Paperwork stops social workers helping children

“Social workers face so much paperwork that two thirds of the profession spend less than ten hours a week with vulnerable children and their parents. A government survey found that the volume of paperwork they must complete was the chief cause of stress and second most common reason for wanting to quit. Social workers say that they often enter the same data from assessments of at-risk children several times: once by hand, then in their local authority’s system and again if a case involves other organisations such as schools or police. The findings come despite a report almost a decade ago that proposed changes to move the profession from one that was overly bureaucratic and too focused on compliance to one that freed social workers to use their own judgment in how to protect children.” The Times

Don’t catastrophise bad A-level results, parents told

“Parents should prepare to fight for their children’s university places but are warned by experts not to “catastrophise” disastrous A-level results. Teachers should also not be blamed if students get a lower grade than expected on Thursday, The Good Schools Guide said. It added that schools would need to step up to fight universities on behalf of teenagers who suffer injustices in their A-levels and that they should see the results as an “opening gambit in a negotiation to get a place”. Roger Taylor, chairman of Ofqual, said that awarding grades based only on teacher judgment would have created “perpetual unfairness”.” – The Times

  • Homeschoolers to be left without grades – The Times
  • University clearing set to be the busiest ever, experts warn – The Guardian

Johnson plans to set targets for police in bid to increase number of rape case prosecutions

“Police could be set targets for the number of rape cases they refer to prosecutors in an attempt to reverse the alarming fall in trials. The Crown Prosecution Service may also be given quotas for how many suspects they take to court under the plans being considered by Downing Street. Rape prosecutions have fallen to their lowest level since records began, figures showed last month. A total of 2,102 reached court in 2019-2020 – a 59 per cent decline since 2016. This was despite reports of rape increasing by a third to 55,130. Since 2016-17, referrals from the police to the CPS have plummeted by 40 per cent.” – Daily Mail

Dawn Butler accuses police of “institutional racism” after being stopped by officers

“Labour MP Dawn Butler has accused the police of “institutional racism” as she says she and her friend were pulled over for driving a “nice car”. The former shadow equalities secretary said she was stopped by Metropolitan Police officers in Hackney, east London, on Sunday and had recorded a video of the incident. The MP for Brent Central, in north-west London, told Sky News in an interview after the incident: “There is an institutional racism in the police, we know that, and it needs to be taken out. It is cancerous and it needs to be cut out of the police force and it’s urgent.” – Daily Telegraph

Protests break out in wake of Belarus presidential vote

“Belarusian riot police cracked down on opponents of strongman Alexander Lukashenko on Sunday night, using tear gas and stun grenades to disperse protests that broke out in the wake of a contentious presidential election. An official exit poll put Mr Lukashenko on course to win 79.7 per cent of the vote, while his main rival, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who has drawn large crowds at rallies around the country, was forecast to win just 6.8 per cent. No Belarusian presidential election this century has been judged free and fair by international observers, and Sunday’s vote was overshadowed by a rapidly escalating crackdown after polls closed, as well as the detention of several of Ms Tikhanovskaya’s team on the eve of the vote on Saturday.” – FT

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