Education authorities assessing situation; Union says strike was massive success

Updated 05:59 PM
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Miguela Xuereb

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The education authorities are assessing the situation as teachers in State schools begin their two-day strike after talks with the government broke down. The Maltese Association of Parents of State School Students (MAPSSS) has also stated that schools should close, while SDM, representing the students, has asked that students not be kept in the dark. The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry stated that education is a national priority, and schools should be the last to close.

The strike

In a statement, the Malta Union of Teachers declared that the strike was a massive success. It called on the health and educational authorities to analyse the situation of the pandemic so that educators can return to physical learning with all measures included.

“This clearly shows that educators are not willing to be moved in the dark by an irresponsible Minister when the pandemic situation merits analysis and action, as the health authorities themselves said at yesterday’s press conference, so that everyone has the reassurance that schools are safe,” the MUT said.

The Union of Professional Educators which is also supporting the MUT’s strike said that according to the information it had, the strike had a 96.5% success rate.

“Some schools today have just had a maximum of 9 educators going in for work, while others have kept their doors closed,” UPE said thanking its members for joining the strike.

UPE said that it is waiting for the government to initiate discussions on the way forward.

The union condemned the Education Minister for insisting that schools will reopen as usual, saying that the ministry was frantically sourcing personnel to reopen schools on Wednesday night.

“It was irresponsible for the minister to justify the government’s decision to discriminate among the different schools against online learning saying that it was not up to standards,” the statement reads.

Earlier during the day, the government through its Servizzi.gov Facebook page announced that school transport and breakfast club will operate as usual.

In a post, the government explained that students would not require a medical certificate if they do not attend schools. Furthermore, each case is being decided according to the number of teachers that turn up for work.

Newsbook.com.mt is informed that in some cases parents have been asked to take their children back home since there were not enough teachers.

The union also condemned all those taking aim at educators highlighting that it would continue safeguarding its members’ rights, the students’ right and their families.

Situation is being evaluated

In the latest update shared by Education Minister Justyne Caruana on her personal Facebook page, the minister said that the situation is being evaluated.

“A few hours ahead of the reopening of schools we were faced by an industrial action which ordered teachers not to report for work,” the minister complained on Facebook, adding that she understood that this caused an inconvenience to the parents and that the government is committed to find a solution.

Earlier during the day, the education minister said that teachers are expected to show up at work as schools are set to reopen after the Christmas break. Supervision would be provided for classes where the teachers do not turn up.

Illum l-iskejjel ser jifthu u l-ghalliema huma mistennija jirrapportaw fl-iskejjel b’mod normali u jonoraw l-obbligi…

Posted by Justyne Caruana on Wednesday, January 6, 2021

On Wednesday, the Malta Union of Teachers announced that government schoolteachers will strike on Thursday and Friday over plans to reopen schools amid a new spike of coronavirus cases.

Malta registered 224 cases on Wednesday, the highest ever for one day, a reflection of the post-Christmas surge.

The union ordered the two-day strike for educators in all State schools after emergency talks with the government broke down. A request for teaching to go online until a thorough assessment of the coronavirus situation is carried out by the health authorities was refused, the union said. Furthermore, the union said it was warned that teachers will not be paid if they opted for online lessons.

The strike is being supported by the Union for Professional Educators (UPE).

The sharp increase in coronavirus cases also prompted Church schools to re-open with online classes for the remainder of this week. The situation will be assessed before deciding whether to extend the measures until Wednesday 13 January.

“Students do not deserve to be kept in the dark” – SDM

SDM, a student organisation, stated that students do not deserve to be kept in the dark, “especially when a situation like this has a direct effect on their education”.

It added that it understands that educators have the legal and democratic right to strike, but that this does not mean that students are not kept in the loop. “Clarification is needed as to whether or not lessons are going to be held in the coming days – be them online or on-campus”, said the organisation.

“Schools should adopt same strategy as in March” – MAPSSS

The Maltese Association of Parents of State School Students (MAPSSS) stated that the State Independent and Church schools should be adopting the same strategy as was done between March and June last year. This comes following the admission by the health authorities that they are expecting a spike in cases in the following days.

The associating went on to say that it is concerned about conflicting information reaching parents. It explained that some students ended up stranded on streets, or parents and guardians were asked to pick up their children from school, as they were told that schools will open normally in spite of the strike ordered.

It added that health authorities are saying that stricter mitigation measures will be adopted at schools. Conversely, they have been maintaining that all possible mitigation measures have already been implemented. The association asks what further measures can be implemented, given that most children are asymptomatic and therefore would not register a high temperature.

“Schools should be the last to close” – Malta Chamber

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry stated that there is no scientific-based evidence which shows that schools should remain closed or be shifted to obligatory virtual schooling.

It added that closing schools, or transferring to virtual schooling, will have long-lasting impacts on the students due to a lack of interaction with their peers and the continued pressure on working parents to stay at home.

The Chamber is calling on teachers and all schools to adhere to strict health protocols and allow health authorities to give guidance according to medical evidence.

Have you been affected by the strike?

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