Digital Engagement

A weekend of coronavirus (Covid-19) Dialogue

May 11, 2020 by No Comments | Category digital platforms, Our work

It’s been a busy weekend on our Dialogue challenge.  In under a week we’ve had a fantastic response from thousands of people contributing on a range of issues. From allowing small businesses to reopen, to discussing the mental health consequences, people have provided numerous suggestions on the challenges we are all facing during this coronavirus pandemic.

By 7:30pm on Sunday 10 May:

  • 10,579 people have registered on the platform
  • 2,879 people have contributed ideas
  • 16,062 comments have been left

The key themes we identified in our previous blog post continue to be under discussion, with the most engaged with ideas largely remaining similar. In particular, seeing loved ones such as partners who live apart or grandparents and family members who help with childcare; or reopening of household waste and recycling facilities and garden centres; and access to outdoor spaces to resume sports in wide open space such as golf, or solitary pursuits like fishing, as well as managing the expectation of outdoor exercise while following stay at home advice.

Below is a flavour of some of what we’ve seen up to 10 May 2020 and prior to changes to outdoor exercise guidance. These are just short snapshots and further more comprehensive analysis is being carried out.

Themes and discussions

Increasing social contact

This continues to be an important topic both on the Dialogue platform and in email submissions. In particular many grandparents have emailed to express how much they miss their grandchildren and families, which is seen as important for mental health. Others advocate grandparents and close family members being able to undertake childcare.

“My son is only 18 months old and is going to forget who his grandparents are. Children develop so quickly and my parents are missing out seeing their grandson grow up – something that can never be given back or made up for at a later date.”

A number of suggestions have been put forward for people living alone to see partners or have a “buddy” scheme with other single-person households or access to befriending services. Others have made a plea to allow more people to attend funerals which would support grieving families. They argue that crematoriums are large enough to enable social distancing and that people can take responsibility for themselves to practice this. Counter arguments however, suggest that, when grieving, people may not be able to take “personal responsibility” and  that the virus won’t respect the sanctity of a funeral.

Scottish Government approach

Discussions here include whether restrictions should be eased and how to balance individual freedoms with protecting the most vulnerable and minimising transmission. Regional variation is a theme. There is a general trend of people feeling that activities and services should open if it is safe for them to do so. This applies across NHS services, businesses and outdoor activities. There is little appetite for a complete lifting of lockdown restrictions. Even amongst those who would lift most restrictions, there was consideration for the need to practice social distancing and hygiene measures and protect particularly vulnerable groups.

Risk is a theme in relation to lifting restrictions and the overall Scottish Government approach. There has been increasing discussion on the platform on how risk should be managed, with views ranging from accepting more risk from COVID-19 to allow the resumption of previous activity, through to discussions of “segmentation” of risk groups to continue to be protected, while groups less at risk are able to undertake greater movement. However, many who identified themselves as being in the at greater risk or shielding groups expressed strongly that they do not wish to be isolated indefinitely and that a strategy should be pursued that integrates all members of society. The theme of enabling informed personal risk assessment and taking responsibility for one’s own risk was a prominent one.

“We need a more balanced approach. We need to protect the most vulnerable and let the rest get back to work. We need to be clear about the risks of living with COVID vs the risks of everyday life that exist any way. This needs to be done in a transparent way with facts and data.”

“As someone in the shielded group, but remarkably healthy considering, I already feel I have been imprisoned for a crime I have not committed. The support that has been put in place is all very well (and welcomed) but it doesn’t do anything for the feelings of hopelessness – the prospect of being imprisoned at home until a vaccine is rolled out is just horrendous.”

“The vulnerable will protect themselves, it is the “covidiots” we need to worry about, so it should be a phased return for all.”

Compliance

Discussions have taken place around enforcement, policing and compliance and are primarily split between contributors who advocate for stronger restrictions and more rigorous enforcement, and others who advocate for more individual freedom to decide what to do, linked also to the idea of risk mentioned earlier. There were also some differing views as to whether current restrictions are ‘rules’ or ‘guidance’.

Staying at home

Many respondents continue to call for the option to exercise outdoors more often and increased access to outdoor locations and activities – with golf and hill walking particularly popular. A range of other solitary sports also receive support, such as solo boat rowing and horse riding.

Connected to discussions around exercise is one on requiring people engaging in outdoor sport like running and cycling to wear facemasks, but others argued against this commenting that it would be dangerous to require people to wear masks when exercising, and that this could discourage people from engaging in activities that are good for their health.

Return to school

Respondents’ ideas largely fell into two categories, namely those who want schools to return as soon as some lockdown restrictions are lifted and those who want an early decision on schools not returning until after the summer break. On the latter option, this was frequently tied in with the request to take the opportunity to review how Scottish education was currently structured.

“Return to school should be phased but on a full time basis and planned in step with the return to work.”

“Feel it is so important for schools to reopen as soon as is safely possible the hugely negative impact school closures is having on children is extremely worrying.”

Discussions include the practicalities of schools returning, concern for those who need additional support for learning, as well as pleas for greater consistency and improvement in home schooling support, ensuring access for all to tablets/ laptops.

Contributors highlight the use of teaching tools like GLOW, Zoom, Moodle and virtual classrooms. There are differences in terms of people’s expectations of teachers offering virtual classrooms. There is a perception about teachers not doing enough, whilst others are concerned that creating a new home learning curriculum is a lot of work for teachers and that wellbeing should be the current priority.

The challenge closes on Monday, 11 May at 10pm.

If you wish to comment, please go to ideas.gov.scot to share your ideas.


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