First students return to school for the first time since March

Teachers and students from select independent schools have returned to school on Monday for the first time since closing due to the coronavirus pandemic 

Students at San Anton School arrive by transport for the first time since March on Monday (Photo: Mark Zammit Cordina/ San Anton School)
Students at San Anton School arrive by transport for the first time since March on Monday (Photo: Mark Zammit Cordina/ San Anton School)

Students returned to their classrooms in some independent schools this morning in what is a changed environment since educational institutions were shut in March because of COVID-19.

The independent schools opted to forge ahead with reopening plans despite the decision taken by State and church schools to postpone the return of students to their classroom by a week.

San Anton School, Chiswick House School and St Martin’s College, and St Catherine’s High School have reported a good first day after students returned to their desks for the first time in six months.

MaltaToday spoke to administrators from these schools where students started the new scholastic year wearing face masks, having their temperature taken at the gate, and sitting at a distance from their friends inside classrooms.

San Anton has opted to set up screens at every desk in their classrooms (Photo: Mark Zammit Cordina/ San Anton School)
San Anton has opted to set up screens at every desk in their classrooms (Photo: Mark Zammit Cordina/ San Anton School)

St Catherine’s High School head Sue Midolo said the first day of school went even better than expected. She said that by the end of the week, all students who had opted to return physically to school would be in the classroom.

Midolo said that around 10% of students had opted to continue their education online and that classes would be live-streamed to accommodate them.

Likewise, an administrator from Chiswick House School and St Martin’s College said the first day went well, as students streamed into school wearing face masks and adhering to social distancing rules.

The school said that while there was an online option, the majority of students would be returning to school physically.

Chiswick House School has set up its classrooms to adhere to social distancing standards (photo: Chiswick House School & St Martin’s College)
Chiswick House School has set up its classrooms to adhere to social distancing standards (photo: Chiswick House School & St Martin’s College)

San Anton School said educators and volunteers of the school have had to undergo a rigorous training programme headed by the school's newly instated COVID committee. Students who were picked up by vans had their temperature taken before boarding and were greeted by the school's mascot.

“Thanks to months of hard work and preparation to ensure a safe return to school, we are happy to say that the first day back for our Early Years and Junior Sector students worked like clockwork,” San Anton School CEO Denise Zammit said.

State schools and church schools were meant to open on Wednesday but the reopening for students was postponed to 7 October, following talks with the Malta Union of Teachers. The move was followed by Church schools who also delayed the reopening.

However, on Monday educators from 107 State schools across the country returned to work.

Education Minister Owen Bonnici said risk assessments of each and every State school were concluded by independent assessors on the OHSA register, who certified the schools as being in line with protocols set by the health authorities.

Bonnici was speaking during a visit to the Valletta primary school where he met with school management and educators.

He said there were various measures in place to reduce the risk of virus spread that start from the school gate and continue inside the classrooms where student desks are spaced out to ensure social distancing.

At the entrance of every school, a security officer will see that all those entering the building adhere to the protocols.

Commenting on the occasion, the Nationalist Party praised the "dedication and professionalism" that educators have displayed returning to school during these difficult times.

READ ALSO: UPE reports 'panic' on first day of school for educators

 

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