THE last time I wrote for the Post, it was on the topic of schools returning, and the hopes that I’m sure all of us had about a successful return in August.

Well, we have had that return, and a few weeks on, there’s no point in pretending that it isn’t a bit “bumpy”. From whole classes being sent home to house parties resulting in cases at a secondary school, we’ve had more than our fair share of difficult news to deal with.

It’s worth remembering at this point that essentially we have three choices.

The first is where we were: in other words, lockdown. Schools closed, children and young people at home, no learning, and parents that are challenged, to say the least, with their employment.

The one thing we know is that while that worked in terms of stopping Covid from spreading, it didn’t work for everything else, and it put a huge strain on families.

The second choice was “blended learning”, where roughly half of school pupils were physically at school at any one time. This was the choice that came in for real criticism from families, the media and other politicians, to the extent that the Scottish Government decided to relegate it to the level of a contingency plan.

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It would have created real issues around actual learning and would have presented real problems in terms of the attainment gap.

Interestingly, it would not necessarily have stopped any of the current issues arising, it would just have limited their impact. So children would still have been sent home because someone tested positive, only it would have been half the children as the other half (hopefully) had had no contact with them – we’ll gloss over the issue of school friends playing together after school. Good, but we’d all agree, far from perfect.

Which brings us to where we are. All young people are back in the classroom, but some, a tiny percentage, are having their education disrupted by being asked to self isolate.

It’s no comfort to them or their parents to say that this is surely better than the other alternatives I’ve just mentioned. It’s very far from perfect, but it’s also far better than the alternatives.

And as we proceed and learn from each incident, all of us – councils, public health authorities, government, schools and families – we will surely reach a point where the incidents become fewer and the management of them gets “slicker”.

It’s worth remembering one of Churchill’s sayings, that democracy was a terrible form of government – until, that is, you looked at all the alternatives. What applies to democracy might also apply to education in these Covid times. On that, I’m sure we will all agree.