Schools will physically reopen their doors on Monday after an agreement between the government and the representatives of teachers was reached.
A number of strengthened measures related to the reopening will come into being as of Monday when students return to their classrooms, including strengthened contact tracing, better medical certificate presentation systems, and weekly upates about Covid-19 cases in schools.
The agreement brings to an end industrial action which saw the vast majority of teachers stay away from class on Thursday and Friday amidst concerns over a new spike in Covid-19 cases in Malta.
The news was announced in a joint statement signed by the Government, the Malta Union of Teachers, the Catholic Education Secretariat, the Association of Church Schools, and the Association of Independent Schools.
The statement reads that during a meeting with the Prime Minister, Education Minister, Permanent Secretary and the aforementioned entities, a presentation about the pandemic and its effect on schools was made by Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci, with statistician Vincent Marmara also providing statistical analysis vis-a-vis the pandemic.
The statement continues that the conclusion reached was that if schools open with all the necessary mitigation measures, then there is more of a tendency that the number of cases in the community will decrease because families participate in less social activities, hence providing more protection to children and educators and helping control the pandemic at a national level.
Given the above, schools will reopen on 11 January 2021 with all the protocols which were already in place for the first semester of the scholastic year in 2020.
An agreement was also reached on some other points: the strengthening of contact tracing, the improvement of the procedure for the presentation of medical certificates, the prioritisation of school staff in the administration of the Covid-19 vaccine like healthcare staff and the elderly, the provision of weekly updates and figures about the pandemic in schools, and the creation of a working group between the government and all parties to discuss and revise pandemic measures as necessary.
Schools hence, will reopen on 11 January, the government said.
Kuntent ħafna li l-Gvern flimkien mal-MUT, l-Assoċjazzjoni tal-iskejjel Indipendenti u s-Segretarjat għall-edukazzjoni…
On Facebook, Prime Minister Robert Abela expressed his satisifaction at the agreement, saying that safety in schools remains a priority.
In their own statment, the PN said that it was satisified with the agreement reached, noting that the MUT had not allowed itself to be steamrolled by the Education Ministry.
The party noted that the government had not been transparent with information, and that the industrial action could have been avoided had there been more caution, common sense, and sincere dialogue.
It also noted that the education ministry had not shown respect towards educators in their attitude and discourse towards them, so much so that their attitude had instigated disparaging speech against them.
The party also said that the ministry had no right to say that the strike was illegitimate.