COVID-19 guidelines for the reopening of schools have finally been published – and unions, parents and students have all reacted accordingly.
Between some very mixed feelings about the fact that students are expected to wear masks in class and stay within their class bubbles, social media was filled with serious and satirical responses to the new rules.
1. The Union of Professional Educators was not happy with the guidelines and cited a number of discrepancies between the written document and the verbal announcement as their reason.
“It is to be noted that the content of the document published today, was not revealed to the union until it was published. At no point, has the UPE agreed, to reopen schools to the detriment of vulnerable educators or children,” said Graham Sansone, the UPE CEO.
2. The Malta Union of Teachers had a different view, emphasising the importance of implementation rather than just guidelines on paper and in theory.
“The position of the MUT on the reopening of schools depends on the implementation of protocols and the situation of the pandemic in the coming months,” says the MUT’s website.
3. Concerned students also gave their two cents by bombarding social media with both serious and satirical posts on the exemption of tertiary education institutions from the guidelines.
Students were appalled by the constant ignoring of their opinions on their own wellbeing, first with the exams and now with schools and they are speaking out.
“The new school guidelines failed to take sixth forms into consideration. I propose we use giants hamster balls as a way of maintaining social distancing,” said a student in a sarcastic post
4. Many parents have also taken to social media to warn that if this situation persists they will not be sending their children to school to safeguard their health.
When authorities were asked whether there were any fines to parents who decide to do this, the response was that there will be amendments to the attendance policy.
This still begs the question of how these children are going to be given an education like the rest of the students without falling behind.
“Parents should have the choice, not the government or the health authorities,” advocated one parent.
5. Maltese make-up artist Henry Galea also weighed in on the topic, encouraging parents to not send their children to school for the safety of the whole country.
“Open your eyes. Don’t just see till the point of your nose. Parents should be responsible enough to not send children to school,” said Galea in his Facebook post.
6. LSEs put forward their concerns for children with certain disabilities and special needs who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic’s abrupt end to traditional education.
The health authority’s recommendations on the school’s re-opening also gave rise to many questions about education for children with special needs who will sometimes need personalised lessons and activities.
7. Employed parents have also spoken out about the ramifications and consequences of these guidelines on their own job and how proper services should be implemented to make sure the guidelines do not backfire on the economy.
“Let’s all prepare our employers for the daily… Sorry, I’m late for work,” said one parent criticising the guidelines.
8. People also criticised the guidelines for lacking details and being unacceptably vague.
Although yesterday’s announcement is the first step to achieving a safe school system, it is both delayed and lacking key details that affect entire demographics.
“You need to issue proper guidelines, rules but most importantly reach out to those involved with a specific plan and backup plan,” said someone in the comment section of Lovin Malta’s article on the subject.
The whole population seems to be on the edge of their seat waiting for their questions to be answered by the relevant authorities and looking forward to all the clarifications and explanation of these unclear guidelines.