I know that as a good left-of-centre liberal I should be worried about test and trace.
I have railed about ID cards, and refuse to hold loyalty cards and I warn friends about filling in seemingly innocuous "surveys" that mine their data.
So, naturally, my peer group and colleagues thought I would be anti any sort of contact tracing system linked to Covid.
But I’m not anti- test and trace. In fact, I’ll happily sign up tomorrow if it gets kids back to school and stops the spread of a disease that has killed so many worldwide.
As such, I was shocked to discover that some of my staff were so adamant that they would never use an app nor supply data to contact tracers.
Refusing to comply
I have to confess, that as a school leader I put thoughts around this to one side. There were so many other things to be concerned about and organise around school reopenings that this one didn’t feature very highly.
Until the guidance yesterday.
“Settings must ensure…that staff members and parents/carers…will be ready and willing to: provide details of anyone they have been in close contact with if they were to test positive for Covid-19…Where the HSE identify employers who are not taking action to comply, they will consider taking a range of actions to improve control of workplace risks.”
This section of the guidance sharply brought into focus the challenge ahead: I already have two staff who say they will refuse, and that’s before we consider the parent/carers.
A teacher has made it known to me that she will refuse to give out contact details should she test positive, and also that she doesn’t want her information given out.
She wasn’t confrontational or "difficult", she was just matter of fact. And the truth is I don’t know where I stand now.
Surely, I can’t tell her that she has to be willing to engage with test and trace in order to be on site? And if she doesn’t, then will I have to pay her to stay at home?
A lack of trust
To be honest, although I agree with the scheme, I don’t see it as ethical to force people to comply.
And when it comes to parents/carers in my catchment, there is such a distrust of government agencies that I cannot see many complying – let alone work out how to ensure they are willing to comply.
One parent has already told me recently he’s not “giving anyone [his] address and doesn’t want [us] to either”.
His firm belief is the government is not to be trusted and that they will use his information for other things or sell his information on for a profit.
At the end of the day, trust in the government is very low and the idea that any school can in any way ensure that people comply with guidelines is pretty laughable.
I guess I’m just going to have to "use my instincts". Barnard Castle anyone?
The writer is a teacher well-known to Tes