School absenteeism in Malta has shot up from around 10% to around a quarter of students as schools reopened in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, Education Minister Owen Bonnici confirmed.
Bonnici was replying to a parliamentary question by Nationalist MP David Thake, who noted that it had been decided that no proceedings would be instituted against parents who choose not to send their children to school.
The minister said that while the decision was an important one to make in the midst of a pandemic, the authorities’ advice remained to send children to school, before confirming that the number of children absent from school had more than doubled.
Bonnici said that around half of this increase was due to children who were either vulnerable or who lived with vulnerable people.
As for the rest, he said that the authorities needed to continue to persuade parents on the importance of sending children to school, even though the final decision would still be up to the parents.
The minister observed that a number of parents may have adopted a wait-and-see approach due to fear about the pandemic, but emphasised that by now, it had been proven that schools were treating the pandemic