A teacher’s union has voiced its confusion over the contrast between the two new COVID-19 restrictions announced by Health Minister Chris Fearne today – namely the closure of English language schools and the obligation for all travellers to Malta to be in possession of a recognised vaccination certificate.
Graham Sansone, executive head of the Union of Professional Educators, questioned why the government hasn’t kept EFL schools open to vaccinated students.
“That way they wouldn’t have killed the industry and the other economic sectors which depend on them,” Sansone – whose union represents EFL teachers – told Lovin Malta. “I question the contrast between the closure of English language schools and the announcement that all travellers to Malta must be vaccinated.”
As Malta currently only recognises vaccines issued by EU member states and the UK, many source markets for the local EFL industry have effectively been cut off. Meanwhile, not all EU countries have agreed to vaccinate teenagers, shrinking the pool of potential students even further.
However, Sansone argued that markets remain across the continent which EFL schools could tap into. While these are smaller than what schools are accustomed to, allowing them to access them would have been a more desirable outcome than closing all schools in one fell swoop.
The union head warned that the EFL sector has been dealt a heavy blow during the pandemic, with several teachers finding other jobs over the past year.
Fearne’s new restrictions come as Malta reported 96 new COVID-19 cases today, the largest rise in single-day figures since last March, with cases found at nine EFL schools.
However, no COVID-19 patient has died over the past 22 days and only three are currently hospitalised at Mater Dei.