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Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced the end of school “bubbles” in England from July 19, following the news that 375,000 children did not attend school for COVID-19-related reasons in June.

Under the current system, if a schoolchild becomes infected with the coronavirus, pupils who have been in close contact with them have to self-isolate for ten days. In some cases, whole year groups may have to self-isolate.

When I was a child growing up in Kolkata, I would hear stories about the European colonisation of Bengal – the precolonial name of India’s West Bengal. These were selective narratives from a particularly male perspective, and presented colonisers as transforming social benefactors installed to provide a civilising influence. The rich histories of Indian philosophy that were once associated with religion, education and health were replaced by the colonial philosophy of conversion, modernising and improvement.

Due to unanswered questions into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, both the U.S. government and scientists have called for a deeper examination into the validity of claims that a virus could have escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China.

The modern research university was designed to produce new knowledge and to pass that knowledge on to students. North American universities over the last 100 years have been exceptionally good at that task.

But this is not all that universities can do or should do. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it even easier to reduce teaching to knowledge dissemination and to obscure other, equally important, forms of education that help students be better citizens, thinkers, writers and collaborators.

Experts got it catastrophically wrong, according to Dominic Cummings, UK prime minister Boris Johnson’s former chief adviser. Cummings has argued that the UK government’s official scientific advice in March 2020 hugely misunderstood how the pandemic would play out, leading to a delay in locking down that cost thousands of lives.

According to Cummings, it was certain specialists with less knowledge of pandemics or medicine – such as data scientist Ben Warner, artificial intelligence researcher Demis Hassabis of DeepMind, and mathematician Tim Gowers – who gave more accurate forecasts at this point.

Smallpox has been eradicated from the face of the Earth following a highly effective, worldwide vaccination campaign. Paralytic poliomyelitis is no longer a problem in the U.S. because of development and use of effective vaccines against the poliovirus. In current times, millions of lives have been saved because of rapid deployment of effective vaccines against COVID-19. And yet, it has been 37 years since HIV was discovered as the cause of AIDS, and there is no vaccine.