Reopening schools would be premature, State school parents say

Maltese Association of Parents of State School Students say actions to control the spread of COVID-19 have not been effective enough

The Maltese Association of Parents of State School Students (MAPSSS) has called for the physical reopening of schools to be postponed, saying it would be “premature” to open with such a high level of COVID-19 cases.

“In view of a record number of COVID-19 cases registered overnight, and clear evidence that the spread of COVID is not slowing down, MAPSSS believes that the necessary actions need to be taken to control the spread of COVID-19. It is evident that the measures taken so far have not been effective enough,” the association said on Thursday.

MAPSSS said that it would be premature to open schools on 30 September, saying the protocols issued on 2 September were insufficient to safeguard the wellbeing of students and staff.

Both the Malta Union of Teachers (MUT) and the Union of Professional Educators (UPE) have now called for the postponement of schools reopening, due to the high level of COVID-19 cases, and the fact that the protocols for schools had been issued too late. 

READ MORE: MUT requests postponement of schools reopening

MAPSSS said that if schools do not reopen, and online learning continues, each school should make it known to parents which single online platform has been chosen.

The group said that for home-schooling to take place, it required parents to stay home – so discussions needed to take place with employer associations to ensure parents are given the opportunity to telework, and that no disciplinary action is taken in circumstances where teleworking is not possible.

“It is also imperative that the education ministry ensures effective outreach for students that disappeared off the radar during the school closure last March. It should be ensured that disadvantaged and marginalised children, including children in low-income families and migrant children in open centres, have access to the necessary hardware and software, as well as internet access, to benefit from proper schooling,” MAPSSS said.

The association said that in light of the negative impact the pandemic has had on children’s mental health, those students should be supported by home visits from trained personnel.

“MAPSSS also asks the ministry to ensure that children of frontline personnel and educators are being provided with adequate daycare and appropriate organisation to allow them to follow their curricula during their parents’ or their legal guardians working hours,” the association said.

MAPSSS said that the ministry should make it clear that the mandatory introduction of new uniforms in first-year kinder, first year, and years seven and nine be postponed because some parents may be facing financial pressures related to the pandemic. “We should not have people queuing for uniforms in social distancing time when we don’t know when and if schools will open.”

More in National