How significant are schools to Malta’s COVID-19 cases? It’s a question that’s been debated again and again over the past year, but a teachers’ union has now collated data to discover the actual impact.
Graham Sansone, head of the Union of Professional Educators, explained his calculations today, only using data from official sources.
Here’s how he drew his conclusion.
On 15th February, Health Minister Chris Fearne confirmed that there were 2,227 cases among educators, students, and school staff since the start of October.
There were 140 days between 28th September, the traditional back-to-school date, and 14th February, meaning schools witnessed an average of 111 COVID-19 weekly cases.
In that same period, Malta registered a weekly average of 847 weekly COVID-19 cases, which means around 14.75% of all cases emerged from schools.
Sansone’s estimates are actually quite conservative because it doesn’t exclude the Christmas holidays and assumes all schools opened on 28th September. In reality, state and church schools reopened later than usual, on a staggered basis between 7th and 14th October, although some independent schools opted to open earlier.
Therefore, the percentage of COVID-19 cases at schools is actually higher than 14.75%.
Sansone also noted that national COVID-19 cases ballooned since schools reopened – with the total cases rising from 3,006 on 27th September to 19,945 on 14th February. Meanwhile, total deaths rose from 32 on 27th September to 295 on 14th February.
Last month, Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci decided that schools should reopen physically despite a rise in COVID-19 cases over the Christmas holidays, arguing that doing so will actually bring down the numbers.
Gauci and leading statistician Vincent Marmara concluded that once schools open, provided that they follow mitigation measures, COVID-19 cases in the community should drop due to the fact that families will participate in fewer social activities.
However, Sansone is now asking whether her statement still stands in light of this data.
“Why has the MUT remained silent during such a time? Has the Permanent Secretary Dr. [Frank] Fabri failed in his task to protect educators and children alike? What is Hon Dr. [Justyne] Caruana going to do about such statistics? Is she going to ignore the numbers reported by the Deputy Prime Minister himself?”
What do you make of these statistics?