Malta Union of Teachers has instructed its members to go on strike tomorrow and Friday after Prime Minister Robert Abela refused their request for schools to go online for the next two days, with the COVID-19 situation evaluated over the weekend.
MUT president Marco Bonnici confirmed that this industrial action will apply to teachers at primary, secondary and post-secondary levels of education.
He announced the strike at a press conference outside Castille, following a meeting with Abela and Education Minister Justyne Caruana.
“The education authorities shouldn’t have ignored the health authorities’ advice for schools to reopen as though there isn’t a problem,” he said. “COVID-19 cases are increasing and we don’t yet know what the impact of the new virus variant will be.”
Bonnici warned that a “state of discrimination” exists within the education system, seeing as Church schools and some independent schools will go online tomorrow and Friday, but state schools will remain open.
“This is unacceptable for us. If there are risks entailed in reopening schools, then the risks apply for everyone.”
The Nationalist Party declared its support for the strike, with Opposition leader Bernard Grech once again blaming the situation on Robert Abela’s “incompetence and arrogance”.
“I express solidarity with teachers, who had to go on strike because Robert Abela’s government keeps ignoring the advice of the health authorities and kept on going as though it was business as usual, risking the health of students, teachers, parents and school staff.”
Shadow Education Minister Clyde Puli similarly accused the government of acting in a hard-headed manner, rather than consulting with the aim of trying to reach a solution for the good of students and educators.
The strike follows a spike in COVID-19 cases, with 224 new cases confirmed today, a record daily rise since the start of the pandemic.
Church schools will teach online tomorrow and Friday and could continue teaching virtually until Wednesday if the trend in daily COVID-19 cases remains high.
Some independent schools have also gone online out of their own initiative.
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