The Union of Professional Educators – Voice of the Workers feels that the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in Malta is not being given the importance it is due by the Ministry of Education. Back on the 13th of March when the active cases on the island were just 12, schools had been closed down to ensure that children would not carry the virus out into the community, and in this way the country would flatten the curve. The endeavour had proved successful, and Malta was in the limelight for its impeccable handling of the pandemic.
Just over four months later, following a period in which numbers had consistently gone down, even to single digits, we now have 185 active cases on the island, most of which made their appearance in the past 2 weeks. It is very clear that we are entering the dreaded second phase most countries have been going through, but what is not equally clear is why Skolasajf and Childcares have not been closed down.
One may argue that children do not suffer the repercussions of the virus as much as adults do, and one would not necessarily be speaking sense there, but what needs to be borne in mind is that children have adult supervision, and these may not prove to be equally able to fend off the virus.
Others may argue that most cases would involve older people, and that our Educators are at no real risk, and there again I would ask these people to look closely at the image issued by the Sahha page on Facebook, where out of the 21 new cases on August 1st, most were under 35.
One may further say that despite alleged and/or verified reports of the virus in schools, no serious consequences have been reported to date. So, should we wait until the first ventilator of the second wave is put to use, before anything is done? What if it is you, your child, or one of your loved ones who is on that ventilator, will you not have wished that preventative action had been taken sooner?
Another thing which the UPE is finding extremely perplexing is the activity of the MUT, which is being very conspicuous in its silence and absence. Are they so immersed in their Summer Mode, as to be totally oblivious of what is going on around them? Are they so little concerned about the well-being of their members, as to shut out anything that could accidentally trigger Union Mode?