MUT requests postponement of schools reopening

The Malta Union of Teachers has asked government to postpone the reopening of schools until all unanswered questions are addressed • Union worried about latest spike in COVID-19 cases

The Malta Union of Teachers has called for the school reopening to be postponed
The Malta Union of Teachers has called for the school reopening to be postponed

The Malta Union of Teachers has asked government to postpone the reopening of schools later on this month until all unanswered questions about safety protocols are addressed.

The union also expressed "serious concern" over the latest spike in COVID-19 cases at a time when schools have not reopened yet.

"The MUT is not satisfied that the implementation of measures proposed for schools will protect effectively the health and safety of all concerned... as things stand, schools are simply not ready to reopen and solutions are lacking," the union said.

MUT president Marco Bonnici said the union council on Wednesday voted unanimously to request a postponement of the physical reopening of all educational establishments, including state, church, independent, pre-compulsory, compulsory, post-secondary and tertiary institutions.

The union’s decision comes on the same day that a record 106 new cases of COVID-19 were registered overnight. There are currently 591 active cases of coronavirus, prompting concerns that the reopening of schools in two weeks’ time may make matters worse.

Bonnici said the union had been waiting for the health measures since March but protocols by the health authorities were only published at the beginning of September. The protocols for Kindergartens and post-secondary schools were published yesterday.

He said this did not give educational institutions adequate time to prepare.

“The authorities have said that risk assessments were conducted. Why have they not been published? What are schools that do not have adequate space supposed to do? The authorities have yet to answer these questions,” Bonnici said at a press conference on Wednesday.

He insisted that while online schooling was not the union’s preferred mode, with coronavirus cases being as high as they are, there was no other choice. 

“The implementation of measures leaves a lot to be desired and in many cases, the way forward being proposed is impractical and cannot, in reality, be implemented effectively,” Bonnici said. 

The union was not satisfied with the implementation of measures proposed for schools, insisting there were still too many unanswered questions by employers.

“The risk of having a spike in new COVID-19 cases with disastrous consequences as soon as schools reopen is real,” Bonnici said.

The union was “seriously concerned” over the latest spike in cases and the opening of schools in these circumstances might lead to a worse situation becoming a reality.

“The MUT has made it clear that it is the government’s responsibility to take measures so that the pandemic is under control as this affects the reopening plans,” he said.

Earlier, another teachers' union, the UPE, called for schools not to open and revert to online teaching in view of the spike in COVID-19 cases.

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