Teachers’ union issues coronavirus directives to prevent contagion

Teachers are being directed to report students who exhibit flu-like symptoms and to keep them out of the classroom

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The Union of Professional Educators has issued a number of directives to its members in a bid to prevent infection.

One of these directives tells educators not to assign or correct any homework belonging to sick students.

“The UPE expects the Ministry of Education to take prompt and peremptory action in the prevention of the spread of the virus,” UPE said, adding that the ministry should provide hand sanitisers, alcohol rubs, water heaters, and adequate soap in bathrooms within school premises.

The coronavirus originating in Wuhan in China dominated media coverage and took Europe by storm since Saturday when neighbouring Italy started reporting its first deaths as a result of the epidemic. Though the virus is described as 'mild' by experts and the Superintendent of Public Health said that there's no cause for alarm, Italy's 383 cases of infection in a short span of time caused somewhat of a panic.

“It is the union’s belief that the Ministry should clamp down on any students who are being sent to school with flu-like symptoms to avoid the spread of the COVID-19 or any related virus which might prove to be detrimental to our educators’ health,” a UPE statement read on Wednesday.

As a precautionary measure, the union issued six directives for its members in State, Church, and Independent Schools.

It told its members that they should not attend any mass gatherings and assemblies organised by the school, irrespective of whether any ill students are amongst the gathering or not.

Teachers are directed to report students who exhibit flu-like symptoms and keep them out of the classroom. Children returning to school after sick days should provide medical certificates declaring them fit.

“LSEs are not to accept the responsibility of supervising any child exhibiting flu-like symptoms while waiting to be picked up from school by parents or legal guardians,” the UPE said and added that educators should be allowed to use surgical gloves when handling student materials or technological devices.

The Ministry for Education said on Wednesday morning that schoolchildren who have been on holiday to countries hit by the coronavirus during the mid-term holidays, will not be allowed into school for 15 days.

A circular issued by the Maltese education and health ministries has instructed staff and students who have visited China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Iran, and northern Italy, to stay at home for 14 days.

READ ALSO | Coronavirus: No school for two weeks for kids and teachers who travelled to Italy and Asia

The World Health Organisation has said that the virus is now spreading faster outside of China than in it. 

There are a total of 81,294 global cases of covid-19. The virus has a recovery rate of 92%. Out of 33,129 closed cases, over 30,000 have either fully recovered or been discharged. 

2,770 have died as a result of the respiratory illness, mostly due to underlying health conditions.