Several students who attend the Giovanni Curmi Higher Secondary School in Naxxar have petitioned their sixth form to go fully online in light of the COVID-19 situation.
Besides reducing their risk of exposure to COVID-19, student Christopher Casha said in a petition that a return to fully online lessons will reduce stress and anxiety levels, eliminate unnecessary travel time and ensure everyone is able to participate in all lessons.
“As Post-Secondary students, despite the current circumstances and strict rules, we still are doing our utmost best,” the petition reads. “Self-motivated hard-working students that are determined to do better despite the increased workload and stress. We are doing our part, now kindly, do yours!”
This week, GCHSS issued a circular to parents and students, informing them that it has stepped up its enforcement of COVID-19 protocols in light of a rise in virus cases and that students who break the rules will be immediately suspended for “several days”.
Rules include wearing a mask and maintaining a social distance at all times while on campus, a ban on sports activities, and an obligation for students following online lessons from school to fill in an online form for contact tracing purposes.
“During the week, several students were caught in violation of one or more of the above regulations,” the school said. “Students found in breach of these regulations were excluded from school with immediate effect. Exclusions are for several days as determined by the school administration.”
“The school once again appeals to all students to be self-disciplined and follow all COVID-19 measures as determined by the health authorities and the school administration. Those who are disregarding the protocols are putting their health and the health of others at risk.”
“In these circumstances, the school administration has no other option but to adopt zero-tolerance with those students who repeatedly disregard these measures.”
Casha then carried out a Facebook poll among 267 GCHSS students, which found that 94% of them are in favour of switching from the current hybrid system involving physical and online learning to a fully online system.
Students appealed to the school administration but their request fell on deaf ears.
“The school administration understands all these concerns but would like to remind students and parents that the current teaching model is the result of an agreement between all those concerned,” headmaster Gaetano Calleja wrote. “The current teaching model will remain in place unless directed otherwise by the education authorities.”
This week, Prime Minister Robert Abela announced a raft of new measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, including closing restaurants, banning contact sports among people aged 16 and younger, and limiting private gatherings at houses to a maximum of four households.
Although no new measures were announced for schools, Junior College confirmed that it will be reverting to a fully online system of teaching until the end of the term.