A number of Maltese students reading for the performing arts in England have found themselves unable to return home and physically attend school in the UK after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced yet another national lockdown.
“I flew back to the UK on Sunday the 3rd, and just a day later the lockdown got announced, and with it that schools will be shut until at least mid-February – so effectively, I came back for nothing,” a Maltese musical theatre student at Guildford’s Performance Preparation Academy told Lovin Malta.
British schools were safe to open up until just a few days ago, which prompted a number of international students to return to England in hopes of continuing their studies.
However with certain performing arts schools not yet offering remote learning options, some students have no other choice but to stay put with no hope of returning back to Malta for the foreseeable future.
Under the current rules, which are the same imposed during the UK’s first national lockdown in March 2020, people are only permitted to leave their homes to shop for essentials, exercise, work if they cannot from home, get tested for COVID-19 and escape domestic violence.
Due to the fact that the UK is now on Malta’s red list, if any Maltese students seek to return back to their home country, they would be faced with yet another 14-day quarantine.
“This comes after the confusing guidelines the UK government keeps making. Just a day before the lockdown was announced, the Prime Minister had insisted that schools are safe and that they plan on keeping them open,” the student told Lovin Malta.
“These U-turns the government keeps making time and time again result in us being in limbo and having no clue which country we’d rather be waiting in.”
Johnson recently said that there were 30% more COVID-19 patients in English hospitals last Monday than a week earlier. Many are voicing concerns that the UK’s NHS is on the brink of being overwhelmed.
Whilst this is certainly not an ideal situation for any international student, some educational institutions seem to be handling the pandemic better than others.
“I’m actually in a really good headspace,” a Maltese student at London’s ArtsEd told Lovin Malta.
“I’m super fortunate that our school is a leader in mental health and that it takes such good care of students like me. The staff knows that we don’t want to be doing this, and they don’t want to be doing it either.”
In light of this sentiment, the school decided to keep online learning up for the next five weeks – however if the lockdown persists till then, the term will be put on pause until students can be brought back in.
“The school hears us, and we massively appreciate it. Because of that, I’ve decided to stay here. I prefer the way I work when I’m here,” the student concluded.