Watch: “Wearing a mask all day is tedious, but I can’t wait to see my friends”

One afternoon last March, students in Malta and Gozo packed up their books, lunchbox and sundry other scholastic materials and said goodbye to their school – and their friends.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, schools moved online; some more successfully than others. Some students took to online learning like the proverbial fish to water; others found that their attention wandered and they did not get much out of it.

But school is not only about academics. School is about friendship. It is about greeting your friends and teachers in the morning. About forging alliances with people who have the same interests as you do. About meeting children who come from another country or culture so you expand your mind. About building self-confidence during drama lessons, getting messy during art and being introduced to a new sport. About playing tag during break or meeting up in the canteen to have a chat.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) maintains that school closures can have a profound effect on the health and well-being of children. So far, Malta will be sticking to its plan to re-open schools on the 28th September, with protocols established to limit the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible. spoke to five Senior School students – Andrea Darmanin, Ċikka Galea, Leah Grech Tabone, Ava Suraya Ariff Scicluna and Michael Tanti – about what they miss most about school… and what they are not looking forward to once they start going to school again.

“I miss not meeting my friends and being able to talk to them,” says Leah, while Ava says that, apart from her friends, she misses activities such as going to the library. Ċikka says that she is looking forward to going back to school as it is easier learning face-to-face than through a computer.

“I already have a problem with the mask and I’m not excited for all the extra protocols.”

Schools in Malta are sticking to WHO recommendations that school children at Senior/Secondary school level (for students born in 2009 or earlier) and over are to wear a face mask or shield while at school, so all the children interviewed will have to wear a face covering all day at school, except during P.E. and when they eat.

“I think I can handle the restrictions, such as wearing a mask, quite well. I don’t mind wearing it, so that’s a bonus,” says Andrea. However, Michael is not of the same opinion: “I already have a problem with the mask and I’m not excited for all the extra protocols.”

Do you think it is safe to send children back to school?

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