Teachers and parents request greater consultation on the opening of schools

The debate has escalated over 28th September having been determined and identified as the date of the start of the new Scholastic Year.

Following yesterday’s publication of three different scenarios by the Ministry for Education we requested the reaction of the Malta Union of Teachers and the Association of Parents and Students that attend State Schools. They said more concrete measures are necessary regarding the needs of teachers as well as the needs of parents.

They are requesting that over the next 30 days they be consulted over this before a final decision is taken when schools and kindergartens up to Secondary Level will once more be opening their gates.

With this as background and the Ministry targeting 28th September as the date, TVM asked MUT President Marco Bonnici and the President of the Association of Parents and Students for their views on this development.

The response was that in present circumstances and in the light of recent developments one has to see whether this is possible and one has to see what the circumstances will be in September when schools are due to reopen because the situation is very fluid.

It is assumed that between now and then this will become feasible as a result of drastic measures as were taken in March and April for the pandemic to be kept under control, said Ms Borg Axisa.

On the morning when the Ministry’s guidelines were made public, teachers and parents said they expect further consultations.

Bonnici said the guidelines are supposed to be open for further consultations. A problem that ensued yesterday is that measures will take place as proposed. However, this is not so and certain measures have already been clarified with the Ministry.

Representative parents are not included in the task force and from communications received and from communications received it is apparent that nothing has been finalised, said Ms Borg Axisa.

MUT President Bonnici maintained that other measures were expected in the guidelines. He said that protocol measures adopted should enable teachers to know where they stand regarding their work conditions. This is one of the matters being discussed with tee Ministry and will hopefully be incorporated over the forthcoming 30 days.

Ms Borg Axisa is a parent but also a teacher. She expects greater flexibility to enable parents to carry out all their roles. She said that procedures cannot solely focus on education but parents have other commitments in society, including their employment work commitments.

Among the three scenarios presented, there is the alternative that pupils will alternate attendance on various days but this system has not convinced all parents.

She said it has already been declared that the hybrid contains great problems to be implemented mainly from m a human resource basis because there is not enough resource to maintain space distancing, the implications involving parents, teachers and pupils who together have class mates and on the morrow no longer. This is a great problem in this scenario.

Meanwhile, the Union of Professional Educators, UPE Voice of the Workers, said it has not been consulted on the proposed scenarios. It said that if the Ministry insists on opening schools in light of the present pandemic, the union will take the necessary measures to safeguard its members. Regarding the attendance of pupils on a roster basis, the UPE said this is not realistic. It also stated it is against teachers delivering education on an online basis.

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