The Malta Union of Teachers (MUT) has made an appeal to the government to postpone the date of physical reopening of schools, after Malta recorded 106 new cases on Wednesday.
Kindergarten, primary and secondary schools are all set to reopen on September 28, with there being no reopening dates published for post-secondary schools and the University of Malta.
Over the last few weeks, the Education Ministry released the COVID-19 guidelines for the safe return of students and educators to schools, with these including kindergarten, primary and secondary schools, along with post-secondary schools.
However, on Wednesday the MUT set up a press conference where it made its concerns on the reopening of schools public.
During the press conference, MUT President Marco Bonnici stated that “The situation is not great as you may have realised, which is why we are taking this stand. However, this is not our final stand as we will continue communicating with the ministry depending on how the situation develops”.
He also pointed out that the protocols were published “too late” and that some of them were absurd, highlighting the one where desks were required to be 1.5 metres apart, and so there could be desks that are facing the wall directly, saying “can you imagine a student looking at a wall throughout the whole lesson”.
Apart from the press conference, the MUT also released an official statement on its official website, saying that it is “currently engaged with employers to understand how these measures are going to be implemented in reality before a final position is taken”.
It also stated its displeasure with numerous issues, as there are still “too many unanswered questions” and that “the risk of having a spike in new COVID-19 cases with disastrous consequences as soon as schools reopen is real”.
The statement also clarified that the MUT has voted unanimously to “request postponement of the physical reopening of all educational institutions including State, Church, independent, pre-compulsory, compulsory, post-secondary and tertiary,” on Wednesday morning.
The MUT also voted for the requesting of certification of schools “by competent authorities” prior to accepting students as schools need to be certified as “complaint with the respective protocol”.
Wednesday’s record surge in cases takes the total tally of active COVID-19 cases in Malta up to 591, with this being expected to rise even more if schools are physically reopened.