Liberty is a library of books, recently deceased poet Joan Margaret in a verse. But with the election campaign that propelled Isabel Diaz Ayuso to the presidency of the Community of Madrid, we discovered that freedom is to have beer in the bar, in defiance of the dreaded Coronavirus. By the way, the observation period also ended in Madrid at eleven o’clock at night with the entry of the curfew.
Rhetoric aside, the truth is that managing an epidemic that is being accepted as collateral damage is acceptable, and that there are more deaths and more infections has proven successful from an electoral point of view. The data is revealed. Madrid’s miracle of easing restrictions to combat the virus has a cost in lives, but the citizens of Madrid overwhelmingly support it. And it’s clear that many other political leaders will certainly notice this, starting with those in Moncloa. Nobody wants to disturb the cat and nobody wants to appear like the bad guy in the movie who, to protect group health, ends up demanding more individual sacrifices.
We should be proud of the collective effort to keep schools open
Perhaps that is why, thanks to the hope we are all putting into vaccines, we literally went overnight from an alarm state to some kind of open crossbar, without accepting that the virus, like yesterday, still exists today. Here. At the start of the pandemic, the most optimistic people announced that we would emerge stronger from it. Does not seem to. We’ll probably go out differently, but collectively we’ll be ready to make a trip two or three times on the same stone.
Fortunately, even knowing we haven’t reached the end of the nightmare, it is true that we see some sunlight and know that the worst is over. And if we want to know, we all also know that managing an epidemic cannot be achieved without making mistakes, tolerating contradictions and improvising when reality passes by. Without a doubt, there are many errors that could have been avoided and the method of communicating with the public was clearly amenable to improvement, and this is not the virus’s fault. Empty, contradictory, or incomprehensible messages could have been avoided altogether. But if we are being honest, almost no one will want to put themselves in the shoes of the many people, politicians, technicians, doctors and experts of all kinds who end up making decisions, because they have had to so many times choose between bad and worst in extremely critical moments. It’s always easier to comment on the game than to play it.
In the midst of all this tsunami, if we focus on our immediate surroundings, we can also find some things that are well done and deserve highlighting. One of them is the way vaccination is administered in Catalonia. When doses arrive in large quantities, they are taken quickly and efficiently. Today, we are close to vaccinating a third of the population, roughly 2.5 million people, including those most at risk and a good portion of essential personnel. When something works well, it has to be said too.
Often times, there are things that are only seen when they are not being done, but if all goes well, the effort to achieve it goes unnoticed. There were many of us, myself included, who thought, when the session started in September, that we would reach Christmas with schools closed, but it was worth a try. And of course, there has never been a shortage of the most sinister experts – who always communicate better with an audiometer – demanding that schools remain closed and that children and teens, who have not been in a classroom for six months, remain at home.
The way schools and institutes operate in our country deserves great collective thanks. The groups had to be restricted, but a certain natural condition could be preserved. Maybe that is why it is not news or we update the school indicators daily, but what has been achieved has an amazing advantage. And we have to thank a lot of people: the teachers, the students and their families, who did everything to make the educational centers work, as well as the educational authorities who accepted the challenge – and the risk – of opening the schools, not forgetting the city councils, which are always there to make it easy to do everything.
The reality we live in in our country’s schools contrasts with what has happened in other countries with which we can compare ourselves. In Germany, the United Kingdom, Ireland or Denmark, schools closed their classes for two or three months, and their classes were closed for a few weeks in France, Italy and Portugal. Even if this is not news, we should be proud and grateful for the collective efforts to keep the schools open and operational. This success in every class and in every school is a real miracle.