Butch Cassidy and the COVID Kid

There is a scene in the movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” where the former bank robbers take a job guarding a silver mine in Bolivia. The grizzled, world weary, tobacco spitting manager tells the pair that the trip up the mountain guarding the payroll is far safer than going back down the mountain(1) . I was given similar advice on a hill-walking course; apparently more accidents occur in the final kilometre of a walk than anywhere else on route. Going up the hill (it seems) has its challenges but coming down can be even more dangerous. Over the past few days we have been hearing a good deal about flattening curves and peaks being passed. This is all great news. However, we are still far from seeing the end of these challenging times and now, perhaps more than ever we must be both patient and prudent.

Earlier this week the Education Minister spoke about the possibility of schools opening in the week commencing 11th May. Like any politician his canvas is necessarily broad, and we are only now starting to find out exactly what school opening will look like. For some, school will not be open until the end of May and others will have to wait until June. If the infection rate grows then we may all be confined once more. Some regions may open before others. The only thing that is certain is, well, uncertainty. I can’t imagine that we will have pupils coming through the School’s gates on 11th May, indeed other pronouncements suggest this will be a day for staff preparation, with pupils returning later in the week. As yet we know nothing about the conditions of a return, will it be masks or no masks? What social distancing will be required? What will we be able to serve for lunch? The last one is straightforward – sandwiches for the first few days at least. There are most certainly more questions than answers and I hope that the entire community can remain patient as we work out what is possible and above all what is safe. We do not want to create more problems for the medical services by returning to school before it is wise to do so.

Thank you for the many positive comments about our remote learning arrangements. It is good to see that so many of our pupils are benefitting. It is also clear that there are many parents who should be considering a career change such is the excellent support being offered on the home front. As the weeks roll on we hope to make greater use of the more dynamic elements of the platforms that we are currently using. I am fairly certain that even when we return we will be making use of the lessons learned from remote school in our daily approach

Helen Keller said, “We could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world”. Sadly, we are likely to be living alongside COVID-19 for many months to come. Despite the slowing of infection rates, I suspect that we will face challenges, disappointment and frustrations during this summer term. We need to take care. We need to continue to work together to remain safe. We need to be equally cautious and optimistic. This will be a term like no other, but it will be a term in which we are likely to learn more about ourselves, our strengths and frailties. As a community and as individuals we will be stronger than ever before if we remain together in isolation.

Nicholas Hammond



1. Having found the clip in question it seems that my memory has failed me – apparently up the mountain is dangerous, Butch and Sundance just think that down the mountain is dangerous (about 1:30 into the film)