Opposition politicians have criticised Johnson’s announcement of the easing of lockdown restrictions as ‘vague’. Having deemed the previous rules authoritarian, these armchair critics now look back on them with nostalgia.

It’s uncomfortable being asked to examine the evidence for what to do and to use your own judgment, isn’t it? It means taking responsibility – some would rather blame the government whatever happens.

The teaching union NEU has adopted a general principle of “No going back until it’s safe”. It has asked all members to send a letter to heads refusing to take part in any discussions about how their school might reopen more widely on 1 June, and instead to await advice from the union.

They say no going back. But without a positive approach, all it means is no going forward. Nothing is certain in science, but the overwhelming weight of evidence at present – from around the world – is that children are highly unlikely to suffer from the symptoms of Covid-19, and that when they catch it, they do not infect others. How many months, how many years, are the teaching unions prepared to wait for greater reassurance?

Schools are essential, not only to education, but also to the economy. Parents struggling with the impossible task of ‘working from home’ while having to look after their children, families shut up in tower blocks desperate to get back to work to pay the bills, might generally be keen for schools to reopen. They need reassurance that schools will be reasonably safe for their children to attend, and staff will be crucial in this.

We must not be paralysed by fear, but discuss how to move forward. For the foreseeable future there will be no such thing as 100 per cent safe (actually there never was).

We know we face difficult days ahead, and we will have to face them as best we can. Workers, and only workers, can fight this horrible virus, with a positive and united approach.

Will Podmore

By email