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PN Candidate Expresses Skepticism Of Rule Obliging Students To Wear Masks In Class

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A PN candidate has expressed skepticism on the obligation for students to wear masks in classrooms, asking why the rule is necessary when children will be adequately distanced from each other.

“This is my personal opinion but I’m not yet altogether convinced that children should have to spend another year wearing masks in class when we can ensure they will maintain a social distance from each other and use hand sanitiser,” Justin Schembri, a teacher himself, said.

“Many of us have experienced what happens in restaurants when groups of six, not necessarily from the same household, are at a table. I would believe that we can start reducing the usage of masks during lessons now that distances have been established, as is being recommended in other countries.”

This was a reference to countries like the UK, which doesn’t recommend masks for students and educators in classrooms, and Estonia, which recommends it but doesn’t make it mandatory. 

Schembri tempered his skepticism by stating that recommendations by the health authorities should be given “absolute importance” and followed.

The issue of mask-wearing in classrooms wasn’t brought up by the Nationalist Party in its official reaction to the school protocols that were announced by Education Minister Justyne Caruana on Tuesday.

In a statement, Shadow Education Minister Clyde Puli said the protocol changes were so minimal and basic that they could have been announced several weeks ago, rather than leaving educators, parents and teachers in a state of uncertainty over the summer.

“With 80% of the population have already vaccinated against COVID-19, the news that Malta achieved herd immunity weeks ago and measures being reduced in several sectors, one would have expected an earlier announcement that students can return to a more holistic form of education that doesn’t exclude social experiences, PE, lab work and fieldwork, but which also maintains precautionary measures.”

Cover photo: Left: Justin Schembri, Right: Stock photo

Do you think masks should remain mandatory in classrooms? 

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Tim is interested in the rapid evolution of human society brought about by technological advances. He’s passionate about justice, human rights and cutting-edge political debates. You can follow him on Twitter at @timdiacono or reach out to him at [email protected]

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