coronavirus back to school

While students make a bumpy return to full-time schooling, the higher education sector continues to struggle as the government picks some universities as losers. Britain continues to meltdown over a naughty staffer, and another dunk on the Tele’s credibility.

School’s in

The return to school is now nationwide. Yesterday, Victorian students in prep and years one, two and 12 returned to the classroom.

In NSW and Queensland, students returned full time, with attendance nearing regular levels. But there have already been some blips — this morning, one case of coronavirus was confirmed at Waverley College, a private school in Sydney’s east.

It comes after St Ignatius College Riverview closed its doors when a case was discovered last week. Expect disruptions like this to make the return to school far from smooth.

Trouble in higher ed

It was another bleak day for Australia’s higher education sector, as Deakin University shed 400 jobs.

And despite Friday’s revelation that the government was spending $60 billion less on JobKeeper than it thought it was, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is still refusing to extend the scheme to public universities.

But as some institutions flounder, unable to get the subsidy, four private universities have been given an exemption from the six month revenue test, effectively allowing them to access the scheme. 

Meanwhile, more holes are emerging in a deal cut between the National Tertiary Education Union and universities, which would have implemented a 15% pay cut in exchange for keeping 12,000 jobs.

So far Deakin University, the University of Melbourne, the University of New South Wales and Central Queensland University have pulled out of the deal. The deal has also created deep divisions within the union, whose members are set to vote on it this week.

The curious incident of the Dom in the daytime

After a bungled response to the coronavirus outbreak and 36,000 deaths, the latest scandal to engulf UK PM Boris Johnson’s government is over a high-profile staffer’s road trips.

Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s chief adviser and the mastermind behind Brexit’s Vote Leave campaign has repeatedly breached lockdown rules. Cummings is refusing to resign, and Johnson continues to stand with him.

So what did he do exactly? On March 27, Cummings and his wife (who were both displaying symptoms) drove 400km from London to Durham with their children, instead of following medical advice and self-isolating.

Tory MPs leapt to Cummings’ defence, arguing he’d simply been trying to get childcare for his children with his northern family. It then emerged Cummings had returned to the Durham area two weeks later, when an eagle-eyed local spotted him wandering around a local castle.

Overnight, Cummings held a press conference at Downing St (virtually unprecedented for an unelected adviser), where he claimed this second trip was to “test his eyesight”.

Meanwhile, a Durham police investigation circles, public fury is at fever pitch and even the normally pro-Tory tabloids have turned on the government. 

The bombshell dossier that wasn’t

Another day, another nail in the credibility of the “Wuhan lab theory”.

For weeks, News Corp papers have been pointing to a secret intelligence dossier as evidence that the coronavirus outbreak could be linked to a laboratory in Wuhan.

But according to the ABC, the “dossier” is in fact a “non-paper”, essentially a background document detailing a timeline of allegations levelled at China with no real intelligence value.

This further confirms earlier stories in The Sydney Morning Herald which suggested that the dossier was based on news reports, rather than actual intelligence.

The Daily Telegraph has continued to stand by its reporting on the Wuhan Lab, and the theory, which fits well with US President Donald Trump’s attempts to shift blame for the pandemic solely onto China, and which has given political editor Sharri Markson red carpet treatment on Fox News and the reactionary podcast-sphere. 

South America the next epicentre

First it was Wuhan, then Italy, and later New York.

Now, South America has been declared the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic, after an increasingly massive wave flew under the radar for weeks.

Brazil, led by far-right, anti-science president Jair Bolsonaro now has the second-highest number of cases in the world after the United States.

Peru, meanwhile, has recorded over 100,000 cases, despite appearing to do everything right, while hospitals in Ecuador are being overwhelmed