WHICH of these is the most important – children going back to school, an individual’s personal health and safety or a stable economy that keeps people in paid employment?

The reasonable answer in normal times is that they are all important.

But thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, we are not living in normal times.

I ask these questions after reading that Warrington Borough Council has revealed some schools in in the town have confirmed coronavirus cases.

This news comes after reports that a member of the kitchen staff at St Stephen’s in Orford tested positive for the virus.

And this is set against a background of an increasing number of coronavirus cases – with the north west particularly badly affected – and the governments new ‘rule of six’ banning gatherings of more than six people inside or outside.

It’s all a bit of a mess really, especially as the ‘world beating’ test and trace seems on the verge of collapse.

And we also seem to be heading towards some kind of intergenerational culture war, with the government happily blaming young people for the new spike in cases.

Of course, history dictates with this government that it’s always someone else’s fault, never the responsibility of those who are actually in power and making the decisions.

Anyway, back to my original question.

The answer you give will always depend on your own personal circumstances and your own set of priorities.

From my point of view, I understand it has been really difficult for parents of school-age youngsters since the schools were closed.

But I don’t have school-age children and I am also well aware that, with the disease still circulating widely in the community, getting all those kids back into school was the equivalent of dotting virus-breeding Petri dishes all around the town.

So while I consider it important to get kids back into proper education, it’s not the most important factor for me.

Getting the economy back to something like pre-Covid levels is more problematic.

I read somewhere early in the pandemic that there are millions of people who are redundant, they just don’t know it yet.

The logic for this is the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – furlough – has allowed employers to keep workers on the payroll, but as soon as the scheme finishes at the end of next month companies will simply cut their losses and make a lot of those furloughed workers redundant.

So yes, it is important that the economy bounces back, and I include myself as someone who wants to stay in paid employment.

But given the choice between being unemployed or dead, I think I’d chose unemployment every time.

In fact, given my age and other personal circumstances, I am at a higher risk of being seriously affected by the disease.

Anyone with a basic understanding of psychology will have come across Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist, stated that people are motivated to achieve certain needs and that some needs take precedence over others.

And the most basic need is for physical survival and is the first thing that motivates our behaviour.

And that’s the level I’m at.

I am fearful.

It’s only when I start to feel safe (hopefully when a vaccine is found) will I start considering other factors as important.

After all, this pandemic is a killer.

The Public Health England statistics to the end of August reveal that there have been 53,067 excess deaths since March and there are dire warnings it will only get worse as we enter the winter flu season.

Nevertheless, I do have a tremendous amount of sympathy for those parents who have had to home school for months or those workers who have or who will lose their jobs as a result of the pandemic.

I also think things are much worse than they could have been thanks to a government that has never really had a grip on the pandemic.

Instead of blaming young people for the situation we now find ourselves in, I blame the government for what I consider were three basic errors.

(Yes, I know there were a lot of other mistakes but I’ll concentrate on these three.)

Firstly, allowing Dominic Cummings to get away with his ‘Barnard Castle eye test’ which gave the signal that everyone could ignore the lockdown regulations and simply do what they thought was best for their family.

Secondly, changing the social distancing rules from two metres to one metre plus which effectively gave the go-ahead for the end of social distancing.

And thirdly, the Eat Out to Help Out, Rishi meal deals coupled with the plea to get back to the office.

After months of lockdown restrictions, the message this gave everyone was basically the pandemic was over.

In the words of the song Perfect Day: “You’re going to reap just what you sow.”