The Malta Independent 19 April 2021, Monday

MUT cautions against physical reopening of schools as one of the first measures to be relaxed

Bettina Borg Monday, 5 April 2021, 12:18 Last update: about 14 days ago

The re-opening of schools to provide in-person education should not be one of the first measures to be eased, the Malta Union of Teachers (MUT) have said.

The MUT spoke out against the physical opening of schools in a statement released on Monday morning, where it said it had been “following the development of the measures and the information of the relaxing of the measures”.

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While the MUT said that it “respects the decisions taken about the measures to quell the pandemic by the expert authorities of public health”, they are not in favour of schools re-opening their doors just yet.

“The relaxing of measures, with schools being the first to open physically, is not in agreement with the MUT”, it announced.

“Till today, more than two people who do not live in the same house cannot be outside together, yet in a few days the relaxing of measures can see 25 students and educators together for six hours”, it continued.

The UK variant played a colossal role in the closing of schools, the MUT said, and the closure of schools is keeping the detriment of everyone at bay, including students and educators.

“In light of these considerations, the MUT hopes that the plan to relax measures is wise and does not put educators, students and families in a situation similar to a few weeks ago”, it said. “The MUT, for now, sustains that the relaxing of measures does not start with the physical opening of schools”.

Schools will definitely remain closed until 11 April - when the current set of measures expire - but health authorities have indicated that educational institutions may be the first to open.

The MUT’s statement contrasts with the stance of the Union of Professional Educators (UPE). UPE chief Graham Sansone told The Malta Independent that he would be comfortable with the physical re-opening of schools and is ready to “give the green light to open schools”.

Schools were physically closed as of 15 March, when Malta was struggling with an average of 300 cases of the virus per day. In tandem, Mater Dei hospital was also overwhelmed with cases.

While Sansone said he is eager to see the physical re-opening of schools, he added that the Education Ministry should consider revising the current policy surrounding break-time for the students.

Instead of the tradition long and short breaks, he suggested that students have a 10 or so minute break between every lesson and an increase in physical education (PE), in order to minimize the mixing of social bubbles.

 

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