[WATCH] Government confirms existence of advice from 'top health official' on schools reopening, MUT says

The Malta Union of Teacher says that during talks with government on Thursday evening, it was confirmed that a 'top health official' did communicate with the education authorities about schools reopening despite previous denials

The MUT ordered a two-day strike after government refused to allow State schools to start the term by going online in the wake of a COVID-19 spike
The MUT ordered a two-day strike after government refused to allow State schools to start the term by going online in the wake of a COVID-19 spike

The Malta Union of Teacher claimed that during talks with the goverment, it was confirmed that there was a communication between the health authorities and the education ministry as to whether schools should reopen.

The union said the confirmation was made in the presence of representatives of church schools, and independent schools who attended the meeting on Thursday evening at Castille.

The union did not divulge the contents of the communication but said it came from a "top health official". The implication of the union's statement is that advice was given to postpone schools reopening, something the government had previously denied.

MaltaToday is not in a position to independently verify the union's claims and Education Minister Justyne Caruana this morning insisted that the education authorities were in constant communication with the health authorities.

On Wednesday, MUT ordered a two-day strike for educators in all State schools after emergency talks with the government broke down. The union had claimed government ignored health advice to start the school term by going online.

Government refused the online option outright despite church schools and some independent schools taking that option in the wake of a spike in COVID-19 cases.

The MUT also asked for a thorough assessment of the COVID-19 situation to be carried out by the health authorities following the post-holiday spike. 

Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci denied that the government was advised to keep schools closed after the Christmas holidays, insisting that talks were held to strengthen mitigation measures.

The MUT said in light of this new information surfacing, a request has been made for an analysis and presentation by the health authorities on the content of this communication.

Talks between the union and government to resolve the impasse are continuing this morning.

The union said it would continue to update its members as the situation unfolds. "In the meantime thank you for the support and hope everyone understands that all this is being done responsibly in order to protect the health and safety of students, educators and the rest of society," the MUT said.

READ MORE: Education Minister berates short notice strike action, calls for good sense to prevail

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