IN your report on schools you quote Scottish Conservative spokesperson Jamie Greene as saying: “Nearly two-thirds of staff do not feel safe at their work. Nobody should feel unsafe in school or at work” ("Calls for Scots schools to give children from ‘chaotic’ homes Covid test kits", The Herald, August 28).

The use of the polar extremes of safe and unsafe isn’t helpful in the current debate about Covid-19, or indeed in many circumstances. There are a few things that could fairly be called unsafe, but I’m hard pushed to think of many that are 100 per cent safe. Most of what we do in life falls between the two, and where an act lies on the spectrum can be moved by how we perform it. We need to talk about risk, not safety or the absence of it.

Free climbing, climbing rock faces without ropes or any other safety equipment, is clearly very risky. However, training and practice can reduce the level of risk to personally acceptable levels, as demonstrated by the extraordinary Alex Honnold when he climbed El Capitan in Yosemite. I spent my working life inside an aeroplane, a thin metal tube flying at 10 miles a minute, six miles above the earth, with the temperature outside -50 degrees. Flying is very low risk, made so by science and engineering, and by extensive training and adherence to procedures, but it’s not 100% safe: accidents do occasionally happen.

Worldwide, over a million people die every year in road traffic accidents, more than have died from Covid-19. So is driving safe or unsafe? It’s neither, and the vastly different fatality rates in different countries show that it’s how we, as individuals and nations, go about the business of driving that moves it along the risk spectrum.

There are risks associated with opening up our schools and the economy. However, there are very substantial risks if we don’t educate our young and don’t return our economy to something close to full capacity. It’s clearly vital that we reduce the level of risk as much as we can, and the record of the Scottish Government has been good on that so far, but the task isn’t only for them. It’s down to all of us to respect the rules that keep risk to a low level. Those rules won’t stop all Covid-19 infections, but they will limit them, and that’s the best we can hope for until science delivers a vaccine.

Doug Maughan, Dunblane.

RECENT coverage about the pandemic has shown that transmission of Covid-19 is greatly reduced in indoor spaces when the proportion of fresh air in the internal atmosphere is high. It is baffling that so many people have a mental block about providing good ventilation. The over the top legislation on indoor smoking would not have been required if pubs and the like had to have suitable ventilation (fresh air blown in over the bar and non-smoking parts and the stale air sucked out at the smoking area). How many schools , hospitals, and offices could be more Covid-secure with adequate ventilation?

They would not need a lot of bulky duct work. Compressed air can transport as much air in smaller pipes using no more material, and is easier to store than air at ambient pressures.

Sandy Henderson, Dunblane.

THE restrictions imposed on us by both governments are having results that no-one foresaw, largely economic but also social and health related.

Unfortunately, politicians, both in government and opposition, have painted themselves into a corner. They are afraid that if they come out and say that the restrictions should be stopped, that any increase in the statistics (currently dubious at best) for the virus will be blamed on them, and the public will therefore not vote for them at the next election.

It follows that the situation at present is that the restrictions are having a greater harmful effect than the virus, but most politicians feel unable to acknowledge this. All restrictions should be cancelled immediately, especially social distancing, which it is not.

It is anti-social distancing. This is all about the next election.

John Burton, Oban.

REGARDING face masks for schoolchildren, do the powers that be not see any anomaly between washing hands meticulously and handling masks that have been moistened with germs and shoved into pockets throughout the school day?

Iris Clyde, Kirkwall.

IF some school pupils think it’s uncool to wear a face mask, how cool will they look hooked up to a ventilator or weeping over the grave of a friend or relative dead before their time?

Stuart Neville, Clydebank.