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Should Parents and Teachers Defy the Government?

Written By: - Date published: 4:02 pm, May 16th, 2020 - 66 comments
Categories: business, capitalism, child welfare, class, class war, covid-19, culture, Economy, Ethics, quality of life, schools, Social issues - Tags: , , ,

Why are parents being told to send their children back to school this Monday? Is it because the health and welfare of children is upper most in the governments mind? Maybe the psychological impact of a child losing social contact during their formative years is a thing the government’s worried about? Or maybe the government’s wringing its hands over children being denied the opportunity of an education?

No. I think not.

For weeks we’ve been fed the line that children are somehow magically equipped, such that the coronavirus will by pass them, or barely affect them, or/and anyway, they’re not really infectious.

When New Zealand’s Siouxie Wiles was asked whether children ought to be tested before returning to school a few weeks back, she responded that testing was

“…not a good use of our resources when there is so little evidence that children play a big role in the spread of Covid-19.”

Now. I’m guessing that Siouxie Wiles has become somewhat the unofficial official spokesperson or authority for New Zealand when it comes to Covid 19 – ie, she isn’t going to say a damned thing that contradicts or upsets government’s thinking.

That came at the end of an article in The Spin Off that essentially propagated the “magical children” myth – children rarely got infected and even if infected, would likely have only mild symptoms. There was a lot of numbers picked from various testing regimes that were presented at face value to underscore that comforting message.

Fast forward a few weeks, and reports of children being infected, but displaying symptoms different to “the norm” are bubbling to the surface. Pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome (PMIS), as the symptoms in children have been labeled, take, according to The Atlantic, “many weeks to manifest”.

In line with what has gone before, The Atlantic article goes on to reassure its readers that cases of PMIS are rare and that the effects tend to be mild (except for the children that die).

All of the above may be accurate enough, and there really may be very little cause for concern around covid 19 and children. Or, as a piece in The Guardian points out –

“…it is not yet clear whether [children] have a lower chance of catching Covid-19. Although fewer children have been picked up in national testing programmes, this could be due to fewer being tested. During the early phase of the epidemic in Europe, adult travellers played a dominant role in seeding infections, which also meant, purely for circumstantial reasons, that children would have played a less significant role in spreading infections.”

I think it’s entirely reasonable to harbour elements of doubt around the story we’re being told about children, their likelihood of infection and the odds that they can be infectious.

New Zealand remains at a level of lock-down. But what are we to make of ourselves as a society when we’re willing to expose our children to a potential threat in the wider environment before anyone else?

Last week, schools opened and parents could send their children if they chose to. One local school I know of normally has around 200 pupils and there has been one child in attendance. In other words, if the attendance rate at that school is even close to being indicative of attendance rates across the country, parents aren’t happy about sending their children to school yet. Regardless, this coming week, they’re being told to send their children back.

Why? Isn’t it normal to shield children from unnecessary danger or, out of all of us, expose them to potential risk last of all?

Well no. As Helen Clark might say “It’s about the economy stupid!”

Our politicians’ relationship with the idea of liberal capitalism is not unlike how a devotee might present offerings to their deity in the hope or belief that things will then be alright. The difference is that a devotee would not normally have to get the children “out of the way” and possibly into harms way to go about satisfying their religious wonts.

Just to be clear. Jacinda Ardern’s government did not, as popular belief would have it, act fast to shut down New Zealand in the face of coronavirus. They followed along somewhere around the middle of the herd, and as announced by Jacinda, would have allowed cruise ships to keep berthing at New Zealand ports until the end of March… if other countries hadn’t begun to lock down and so given them tacit permission to do what should already have been done. Luckily enough for all of us, the number of infected people in New Zealand at that time was less than in other countries.

And now with an idea of economy still at the forefront of their mind, are there those who shrug at the potential for a little human sacrifice when the prize is to be a place towards the front of the herd? There’s obviously been some thought put into calculating what potential price would be worth it – otherwise our children would not be being sent back into the wider environment first, so that the working class can get back to their jobs that essentially service the needs of white collar wallahs who are going to continue working from home for now.

The way I’m seeing it is, that in the event New Zealand sees no further deaths from Covid 19, this mind set that has seen fit to elevate the integrity of a liberal capitalist economy above the potential risk to children’s life and well-being becomes no less toxic and misanthropic for all of that.

66 comments on “Should Parents and Teachers Defy the Government? ”

  1. bwaghorn 1

    News flash bill ,nz is on top of covid ,I'm sure if numbers rise this excellent government of ours will act.

      • I Feel Love 1.1.1

        My kids are going back to school on Mon. The schools have been communicating with us parents and kept us informed with the new policies in place. So short answer, "no".

        • bwaghorn

          Mine spent most of 5 weeks at my work ,chilling in the ute or cruising on the bike ( very laid back kid) so the 2nd week of l3 I decided the coast was clear enough for school.

        • lprent

          I was just talking to two relatives who are teachers. As far as I could tell they were more outraged at the doubling of teacher registration costs from the teaching council this week.

          In essence they said that the Teaching Council does bugger all, that the PPTA (in their case) does all of the work and that it appeared to them that the TC was raising money from teachers to provide some kind of training.Something that was already being done through multiple other channels especially down at the school level. In particular that it was raising from the lower paid teachers to pay to train the better paid teachers and principals for their future development.

          I haven’t looked into it yet.


          Interesting. I wonder what the legislative requirements are. If there are 100k teachers paying $157 per year, then that is 15.7 million. Which is way too much for a registration service, and way too little to provide much training and development. It also sounds like a pittance compared to the ongoing training and development that I know that many if not most teachers already do for themselves or through their school boards.

          • Gabby

            It would pay a ceo and cfo handsomely.

            • In Vino

              Hey, be fair, Gabby. I am still in the 'profession', and back in 2007 that illustrious Teachers' Council (for a fee of $200+ over 3 years) gave me a lovely, glossy Registration Certificate!!

          • Patricia 2

            I believe there are no actual teachers on the Teaching Council ; can that be confirmed ?
            And that recent communication from the Teaching Council (re the increase) occurred at the same time Lockdown was starting. Most teachers were sorting out on line provision of education services at that stage.

            • In Vino

              Patricia 2 – I decided not to pointlessly respond to their questionnaire. It would only have raised my blood pressure, and I am sure that they would have binned my offerings.

              Looking at the summary of input they recently sent out, I think a lot of teacher discontent was euphemised…

            • Fran

              Worse than that the letter came during the budget. Very poor timing. There are two teacher reps on the council now thanks to this govt. Unfortunately the rest, including the ceo are not.

              • lprent

                The reason that it arrived at the budget was because the budget had an amount in it for the teaching council to effectively tide them over until the increased payments from teachers came through. That was in the articles I linked.

                The problem is that it doesn't look like a lot of the teachers perceive that they're going to get value from the increased amount that they were from what they were already paying – which they also don't perceive much value it.

                You have to remember that the professional development that this is meant to be in part paid for, is already being down by the teachers themselves or the schools they're at. The teacher advocacy is largely being done by unions like the PPTA, NZEI etc – that they usually paying for as well. The teachers themselves did their degrees and teacher training by paying for student loans.

                So as I heard it – what use is the teaching council apart from just being a registration body for teachers? Something that could be done a whole lot cheaper than ever the $220 they have had to pay every three years previously? What in the hell are they paying $157 per year for?

                Especially as this is a flat fee across all teachers – thereby hitting new teachers and the poorest paid harder as a percentage than the ones paid more.

                • KJT

                  As a general rule work related costs like Professional body fees, plumbers registration and indeed my own registration costs, which are not cheap, are tax deductible, and paid by your company, sole trade entity or partnership, or employer.

                  Why are Teachers paying it directly, from after tax income.

          • Fran

            Thanks LPrent. It is worse than just fees. The teachers council in its current form is the brain child of Hekua Parata. She didn't listen to teachers when she pushed the legislation to disestablish our council and replace it with govt. Appointed beauraucrats who don't give a rats about teachers but are empire building. We are not happy. No one asked for what the council has done. They don't represent us they are nasty parasites.

          • Mad Plumber

            My license fees are $90 each for my plumbing and drainage total $180. The PGBD does Professional Development, complaints etc.

  2. weka 2

    Where's the evidence that children in NZ will be at risk from covid?

    I didn't look at it in depth, but the pandemic response in NZ is about managing risk across the population, and I see the position on kids and covid being part of that. It's not saying no children can get covid, it's saying that if a child does, that the infection can be contained (kids in schools are relatively easy to contact trace), and that the risk is low of increasing the R0 value in NZ at this time. The chances of a child contracting covid now is pretty low. Obviously kids with immune issues will need to take precautions, like they do with other contagious outbreaks (measles, whooping cough).

    Also not seeing any evidence that Wiles would go against her own science-based understanding in order to uphold government lines.

    NZers do seem to have this thing about kids not being in school is really bad. I don't get it myself, especially primary school kids. But yeah, I think people are wanting kids to be in school because it's seen as important.

    The other issue here, and a real one, is that of childcare if kids aren't in school.

    • Bill 2.1

      Where's the evidence that children in NZ will be at risk from covid?

      As The Atlantic article points out, PMIS manifests after some weeks. Meanwhile The Guardian article alludes to children having slipped through testing nets because they weren't seen as carriers and would also have tended to be untested unless displaying symptoms…which they wouldn't have because "some weeks" Meanwhile we've been fed a narrative as an article of faith, that children are low risk (from being infected, from getting seriously ill, from being vectors)

      It may be the case that NZ is, to all practical purposes, clear of Covid. It could also be that infection is in the community but not yet apparent.

      Obviously, in the first instance, there is no risk.

      But insofar as there's a lack of certainty, to my way of thinking, applying the precautionary principle would have been the human thing to do. And never shove children out in front first.

      • weka 2.1.1

        "Meanwhile we've been fed a narrative as an article of faith, that children are low risk (from being infected, from getting seriously ill, from being vectors)"

        That's because the science is showing they appear to be at low risk. PMIS also appears to be rare, death from PMIS very rare. If we were in New York, there would obviously be a much higher risk. Here, where we have contained transmission along with good isolation strategies, the chances of a child getting covid are quite low. Of those that do get covid the chances of getting PMIS are much lower, and death from that even lower still.

        There might be a case for the DHB areas that are still getting new cases to be more cautious, but the SDHB for instance hasn't had any new cases for 27 days. There is still much we don't know, but I assume this means that there is no latent community transmission, or that if there is it is minimal and will be contained when it appears.

        We could get really unlucky and find that covid can transmit asymptomatically and cause active cases months after the last known case. I'm not sure there is any evidence to support that though. Given that, using the precautionary principle, how long should kids stay home from school, with all the consequences of that if it is long term?

        (repeating, the MoH approaches to public health are always going to be about how best to manage situations from their perspective. It's rare for single individuals to be the priority).

        • Incognito

          I think the chance or risk rather of latent community transmission is becoming lower as time goes by. During weekdays, they’re conducting about 7,000 tests every day and about half that in the weekends.

        • bill

          That's because the science is showing they appear to be at low risk.

          See my replies elsewhere in this thread that link to reputable sources (ie -UK Office of National Statistics) calling that conclusion into serious question.

          I can't see the basis for saying PMIS is rare. If symptoms are generally mild and not thought to warrant medical attention, then the incidence of PMIS will be underestimated.

          And the point about PMIS is whether a person with it is infectious, and if so, at what point – ie, before they exhibit symptoms or only when they exhibit symptoms…and back around to mild symptoms slipping under the radar because a) person doesn't seek medical attention and b) children are assumed to be at low risk of infection and so possibly less likely to be tested than would be the case if they were an adult.

          Parents could have been given a choice about sending their children back to school, secure in the knowledge that government was ensuring they would not face possible recrimination from employers if they had kept their children away.

  3. Porkpies 3

    I'm sending my kids back to school on Monday. There are no active cases in Wellington or the Hutt Valley where I live… what exactly is the risk?

    • Treetop 3.1

      I have noticed a big difference between level 2 from level 3 compared to from level 4 to level 3. People are now able to travel to any region so a case in one region could go to another region.

      As long as teachers can access a test and children who are unwell can access a test and some testing is carried out among children who are not showing symptoms this will help to detect a case when there is one.

  4. Treetop 4

    I would have liked to have seen a 2.5 for a month. The .5 keeping school children home. This would have been able to determine if community transmission was occurring in the adult population without great numbers of children being grouped together. I am waiting to see how things go at Marist College in Auckland with attendance and cases.

    What action will be taken when there is a case at a school needs to be swift and known. I would also like to see teachers being tested. If a child has any symptoms I expect that they will be sent home immediately and the child will require supervision.

    How understanding is an employer going to be if you have a unwell child and the number of children also could matter?

    Is it going to be a step backward for women with children not being hired?

    • Cinny 4.1

      Is it going to be a step backward for women with children not being hired?

      Sadly that's nothing new and Covid won't change that narrow minded approach from some old fashioned sexist employers.

  5. barry 5

    Schools have the advantage that they have a very good idea who is there at any time. Makes contact tracing easy.

    The best current evidence is that children are not so badly affected as older groups. There are some that get it bad, and some die of odd causes, but the percentage is very small (still not nice for the parents of the exceptions).

    Some children are coping very well at home and learning all sorts of stuff, but the ones who aren't are mostly the ones who are already at a disadvantage. The less educational time lost the better. It seems at least as important as keeping a barista employed.

    So if professional league players can play and other people can go to work in places where distancing is theoretical, it seems that children should be able to go to school. I don't think the truancy police are going to be looking for those whose parents are afraid to send them to school. I think the school is going to want to know who they are, so they can make arrangements for them.

    • Muttonbird 5.1

      Good post. Schools are inherently traceable entities. Parents can't go to schools in normal times without permission. No student is allowed out of school unless authorised.

      The principal of Massey High School, Glen Denham, made the point a few weeks ago that his Y12 and Y13 students are already difficult to engage so the reality is the longer they are kept away from school, fewer will come back at all.

      I was very sad at his summation that there will be a significant number of late teens in lower income communities all over the country who will not finish school.

    • I Feel Love 5.2

      Yes, schools are taking contact tracing very seriously, parents have been sent information about which gates will be open, if we go on school grounds we have to register at the office.

      If kids are sick that's what my sick days are for, I'm a solo father and taking days off for sick kids has never been an issue.

      I took my children out of school before lockdown, I am confident enough to send my kids back.

  6. McFlock 6

    So you're a government, you're pretty sure there's no more community transmission and your active cases are approaching zero, and even your "new" cases seem to have been cases that were missed a week or more ago – when do you open everything up?

    Because it's not just schools being reopened, it's bars, cinemas, theatres, museums, offices, etc. There's no point staying in lockdown if it ain't here.

    You really do have some odd takes sometimes.

    • bill 6.1

      I agree lock-down can't last forever. What I disagree with is children being among the first to be put back into a potentially hazardous environment on the basis of "pretty sure" or some such. There is a lot about covid 19 we simply don't know or understand. For example, we had been progressing under the notion that incubation times were no more than 14 days. But that's just been blown out of the water with PMIS cases. We also thought children were less susceptible to infection, but that's now being reappraised. And I haven't heard dicky on PMIS and infectiousness – when is a person with PMIS infectious, if at all?

      Anyway. Yes, bars, cinemas and such like are open. But those are spaces anyone can choose to enter or avoid. There's no choice around the school reopening – yes, a parent could keep their child away from school if the parent isn't being leveraged back into the workplace regardless.

      Why weren't single, white collar workers the first people called on to venture back into whatever this new normality might be? Why do children get to go first? (That's rhetorical – I've given my answer in the post)

      • McFlock 6.1.1

        Children aren’t going first.
        Schools weren't kept open at L4.

        They weren't reopened for L3.

        They were alongside pretty much everyone else reopening at L2. Including this single white collar worker.

        • bill

          School was voluntary at level 3. Is there a compelling reason to have made it mandatory at level 2 given our understanding of even some of the basics about Covid are in a state of flux?

          ie – now being suggested that children are not less susceptible after all, and it seems PMIS presents a whole new ball game in terms of incubation periods ( and possibly infectiousness).

          • McFlock

            School wasn't "voluntary" at L3.

            Can my child go to school at Alert Level 3?

            At Alert Level 3, all children and young people who can stay at home, should stay at home.

            At L2, the compelling reason to reopen schools is that there isn't the isolation imperative or personal risk involved in resuming normal routines (for most people – those with reason to be in isolation or whatevs still do distance learning).

            Your rhetoric makes it sound like white collar workers are making schoolkids walk through a minefield to clear it, while taking bets on which kid goes 'splody first.

            In fact, it's a considered assessment of the situation by people and organisations who have spent years and careers preparing for this event. Maybe we'll have to walk it back, maybe not. But it will be based on more solid information than your tilting at neoliberal windmills.

            • bill

              A government putting children in the front line at this time when new information that pertains to them and their health is just emerging, and just so workers get back to their jobs and get the economy moving, is unconscionable.

              You want to dismiss that as "tilting at neoliberal windmills", then fine.

              • McFlock

                There's always new information coming in. Should we stay in lockdown forever, the first generation of bunkerbabies?

                It's not just so people can get back to work. It's about restoring some semblance of a normal life, with community and interaction and even, fuckmedead, jobs. Purpose. Dating. Meeting people. Seeing something other than the same four walls all day. The simple act of a fucking conversation.

                There's no "front line". There's no area more dangerous that we can throw kids into and laugh maniacally. What you regard as an unconscionable risk to children is a simple act of stepping outside when the storm has (according to firsthand observation, satellite imagery, and the calculations of trained professionals) passed. Which we all have to do sometime lest we turn into morlocks.

                • bill

                  Should we stay in lockdown forever, the first generation of bunkerbabies?

                  I've already addressed that in my first response to your comment on this thread.

                  It's not just so people can get back to work.

                  I agree, but it's the government's motivation I'm talking to – not a list of impacts on social dynamics that coming out from lock-down will have.

                  I also said it was the government's decision that was unconscionable – not that the potential hazard in an environment was unconscionable.

                  A better analogy than your storm would be one referring to the potential for multiple tsunamis after an earthquake and the timing of a decision hit the beach again (children being among the first).

                  Reports on PMIS over coming days and weeks might prove to be "interesting" (though I hope they're not).

                  • McFlock

                    Oh, they'll be very interesting.

                    But not so much here. Because once we understand the main parameters of transmission (which we do now), it really is more like forecasting weather rather than predicting earthquakes. There are basic mathematical variables that can be assessed and your models confirmed via multiple observable thresholds. We are nowhere near that with earthquake prediction.

                    Your interpretation of government motivations is surreal. If you can only imagine unconscionable motives from government then every one's an aresehole, I guess.

                    • bill

                      If you can only imagine unconscionable motives from government ..

                      McFlock. Are you experiencing severe reading comprehension problems? I haven't said the government's motivation is unconscionable, and I've been quite straight forward on what I think the principle motivation for the government's decision has been.

                    • McFlock

                      You said you were talking to the government's motivation and that their decision was unconscionable.

                      Pray excuse me for thinking that one might be related to the other. 🙄

  7. There has been far too much contradictory advice about "social distancing".

    Apparently we all have to keep two metres apart when in the open air, or large enough gathering places.

    None of the above applies to classrooms or school buses?

    Why bother having a rule with those exemptions?

    Non school children need an explanation from the "medical experts".

    • McFlock 7.1

      Basically, schools are now larger bubbles. Public transport is not.

      • Define "bubble".

        Tauranga to Wellington?

        I would love to see what science was involved.

        • McFlock

          Define bubble? Have you not been paying attention over the past couple of months?

          I think most universities have courses in epidemiology if you really would like to know more than what's been rather exhaustively described in the daily pressers.

      • I Feel Love 7.1.2

        School classrooms have seating spread apart, assemblies look a bit odd with all the kids sitting apart, (they did all this before lockdown), of course it's not gonna be perfect, much like the tradies, shoppers, bar drinkers, footpath walkers, etc …

        • RosieLee

          There are large numbers of schools now which have been altered, or built, to open plan classrooms. (Sorry, Modern Learning Environments).

          Some of the newer secondary schools, which used to have 3 classes in a "space", ie around 90 kids plus teachers and teacher aides, have not been kept up to roll increases and now have 4 classes ie around 120 kids plus teachers etc. Students do not have spaced, individual desks, but group around tables and sprawl around on benches.

          So assemblies can be cancelled, but what about the teaching time and space?

  8. Incognito 8

    Here’s a link to the very recent WHO Scientific Brief Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children and adolescents with COVID-19.


    • lprent 8.1

      That is more a link about how to report than anything else. But an interesting link none-the-less. Gotta love how you can see full-text on almost all covid-19 reports.

      They have recognised an issue and now they're trying to standardise the reporting back to a central point based on observed symptoms so that it can be mapped and analysed.

      The things that they do have data on (refs 13-15 in the link)

      13: Italy 10 children with kawasaki across of whole province.

      14: Washington DC 177 children with confirmed covid-19. 39% with pre-existing conditions. Most with the usual covid-19 presentations. 1 with kawasaki disease type symptoms

      15: Detailed diagnostic of a single case with kawasaki disease type symptoms

      It looks like the under-20 make up about 2% of all known cases in a US analysis in Ref 15. But Ref 14 also says that a reanalysis of the Wuhan epicenter data gave 12%. I'd hazard a guess that when the environmental load goes up high, then so does the younger infection rate.

      • bill 8.1.1

        The thing is the "1001" unknowns…still trying to figure out who's infectious, how long a person may be infectious, possible asymptomatic infection, symptoms and how they differ across ages and back to unknowns around infectiousness…

        ONS date from the UK contradicts other studies that have been cited to suggest children are more in the clear than adults and reportedly shows children were as likely to catch coronavirus as adults

        Further down he same article…(bold added)

        Azeem Majeed, a professor of primary care at Imperial College London, said the data suggest some previous studies, based on hospital admissions, may have underestimated the rates of infection in children.

        “Children usually have mild symptoms and therefore may not often need medical care. The next step will be to try to determine whether children are as likely as adults to infect other people,” he said.

        I'd be curious to know the age of the Maris College case from the other day. And to know what symptoms they had when they tested negative, and what symptoms they have now ( -eg -more in line with PMIS?) that they have tested "weak positive", as well as what "weak positive" is known to mean in the case of covid 19 and infectiousness (ie – not a punt on probabilities).

        • Incognito

          Aged between 15-19.


          As far as I’m aware there is no clear or at least no clearly articulated definition of “weak positive”.


          They were “not considered infectious now”.

          The number of known active cases is dropping every day.

          Make of that what you will.

          • bill

            So you think the reasons being given by medical professionals as to a) why young people will not have been as widely tested among as other age groups, and b) why they are underrepresented in data sets…you think those reasons are bogus?

            Weak positive merely signals that low levels of the virus were found. But given the uncertainty around infectiousness and what not, it doesn't really mean anything very much.

            • Incognito


              Do I think it is safe to send children back to school under current Level 2 in New Zealand?


              If we knew what a ‘weak positive’ really means, we wouldn’t have to speculate as much. My speculation (https://thestandard.org.nz/covid-19-may-be-endemic/#comment-1712132) was close to that of Professor David Murdoch, Dean of the University of Otago, Christchurch. Based on that and the particular case history, I think it is safe to assume it means that that case was indeed “not considered infectious now”.

              • Sacha

                If children were infecting adults, it would have shown up in cluster tracing and random community testing. The level of confidence with which our public health experts are advising government reflects that.

                • Incognito

                  Indeed, I think we safely can rule out children being a major vector of COVID-19 in New Zealand. Hopefully, it stays that way. So far, there have been 157 reported cases in the 0-19 age group of which four are still active. No deaths and no other reported complications or delayed symptoms yet, as far as we know.


                  • bill

                    Indeed, I think we safely can rule out children being a major vector of COVID-19 in New Zealand.

                    If there are any young people who were exposed to covid 19, they will not develop any signs of PMIS for weeks. I have no idea (and I don;t think it's known at this stage) if a person with PMIS is contagious and so able to transmit Covid 19 onto anyone.

                    But if those two factors (exposure and contagion) exist, then ruling out children as a potential major vector is going to have quite the teeth on it.

                    • Incognito

                      That’s a fair comment but it doesn’t change the view that children are currently not a major vector of COVID-19. We might see delayed symptoms but in all likelihood, the numbers will be small if not zero.

  9. Why are there so many definitions of bubbles?

    Where is the science?

    • McFlock 9.1

      A "bubble" is an illustrative description of a concept designed to help people understand the principle. The concept it illustrates is that of lowering the transmission of an infection throughout the population via the use of physical distancing between the most practicably-atomic social units (nuclear families, households, etc). The lower transmission is reflected in a lower R0, which in turn reflects itself in flatter and wider infection curves, where the area under the curve corresponds to the total infected population.

      To use another analogy, it's a fire-break. The flames of infection hit the fire-break and don't spread to the next forestry block (or at least the spread is slowed).

      Here's an article about the math, if you want. But the size of bubbles isn't based on any line in the sand, it's based on practical group sizes: households, offices, classes, schools.

      If you need prescriptive rules enumerated to the tenth significant figure, this is not your friend. It's a science, not an art, but it's practical engineering rather than lab work in a controlled environment.

      • I Feel Love 9.1.1

        I'm reminded of the old Lotsa Noodles Soup ad, the kid saying over & over again, "but what's it called?" = "but what's a bubble?" A brilliant description McFlock.

        • McFlock


          I don't have much truck with the eternally morose, but some people do just regularly have intense difficulty with gray areas and blurred lines.

          The fun bit is with things like confidence intervals – one variable might be "within the interval" and the other "significant", when really there's a 1-point difference at the third significant digit between the two of them. In reality, both of them are sort of "meh… maybe, maybe not, but kinda interesting". Whereas I tend toward the "do we really give a shit" about whether one total should be grouped with another, when the clinicians are like "yeah, actually they're fundamentally different both in treatment and in diagnosis, even though the sound the same".

          Takes a village, sort of thing.

  10. Cinny 10

    We received detailed emails from both of my children's schools. Here's an example of some of their important new rules.

    Children that do not adhere to Level 2 rules will be sent home.

    Parents are not encouraged not to enter school grounds. Parents of year 1-3 students will have to sign a contract tracing book and will need to use the hand santiser upon entry to the classroom.

    School sports shed and gym will be closed, student leaders will be preparing activities for students that allow for physical distancing.

    All lunch passes will be cancelled.

    When students return to school their well being will be the number one priority ahead of any academic learning or any assessments.

    I’m back at work and my kids will be back at school on Monday. And they are looking forward to it so very much.

  11. Leighton 11

    Interesting to learn this morning that the confirmed case yesterday was a pre-schooler (between 1 and 4 years old). That little tidbit got a bit buried in all the level 2 self-satisfaction.

    • Incognito 11.1

      What’s your point?

      • Leighton 11.1.1

        Just reinforces the point that young children are susceptible and potential spreaders, which is not the messaging that the government was putting across at the time schools and ECE's were reopening at level 3 and not what they'd want in focus as things return to "normal" today .

        To me the statements around children have been the biggest misstep of the otherwise excellent government communications, where the messaging has crossed the line from factual to spin. Hopefully they've got the spread of the virus under control to the point that it will not now matter in practice – the next three or four weeks will tell the story.

        • Incognito

          You and others seem to be operating under the misconception that our Government has stated in no uncertain terms that children are not susceptible to COVID-19 and (therefore?) no potential spreaders. The Marist cluster is a case in point, but a child at school did apparently not start this outbreak. You’re free to believe that they have been spinning the facts but that is certainly not my view in this regard. What we know now and what we’ll know in four weeks are likely to be very different.

          • Leighton

            You're right that they did not categorically state it in no uncertain terms (that would have been an outright lie rather than just spin) but Dr Bloomfield's statements in April that the virus "doesn't infect or affect children and teens in the same way it does adults" and "Children and teens … don't tend to pass the virus on to adults," seemed to be based on anecdotal evidence rather than reliable research. I remember that at the same time as he was saying this, there was a study by John Hopkins University in the US saying that there was insufficient information to draw any conclusions about the risk of children spreading it. It just stood out to me as a very optimistic/she'll be right approach when in all other respects the government had (and still has) proceeded with caution.

            • Incognito

              I thought all along that Bloomfield’s statements and language were careful and cautious and never for a moment thought there had “crossed the line from factual to spin” as you suggested earlier. Bloomfield was aware of the inherent uncertainties in the information at hand. The messaging was sometimes a little unclear and even confusing but they seemed to be keen to correct and update and be as clear, open, and honest with the NZ public as possible under the circumstances. I’d say that it was excellent communication and PR but not spin. In any case, we were in Level 4 lockdown, not re-opening schools in L2 and what applied then does not apply now and vice versa. Lastly, as bill has pointed out, there are still many questions particularly around children.

  12. Muttonbird 12

    Both kids went back to school today. They loved it. We as parents loved it too. Not because we didn't enjoy the time with them but because we can't do the job of teachers and schools.

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