The Union of Professional Educators – Voice of the Workers has been in contact with many educators and parents expressing concern over the possible opening of Skola Sajf this coming July. The union is well-aware that preparations are being made in view of this, and fully sympathises with anyone having grounded concerns over their own well-being, the well-being of the children who will be attending, as well as that of society at large, given the unprecedented events that have characterized the past couple of months since the onset of COVID-19.
The UPE has consulted with various health professionals, and has been closely following the instructions given by our Health Authorities on the issue. What has surfaced from these discussions was that, at this point in time, it is way too early to determine whether Skola Sajf can effectively open its doors to the students who were registered to attend. The current situation is unprecedented, and we have nothing in hand which can give us any consolidated insight into how the situation is likely to develop.
In a consultation with FES, the union was informed that preparations were being made but, even there, there was no absolute certainty that Skola Sajf would be launched according to the predictions made, as guidelines need to be issued at a later date determining the feasibility of this endeavour, based on the solid and knowledgeable advice of the Health Authorities. Skola Sajf requires much preparation to be made ahead of time, and what is being done at the moment is just to ensure that, should Skola Sajf open its doors, its organisers are not found unprepared to face the situation, and the new realities it might bring about with it.
The justifiable concern of parents, over sending their children to Skola Sajf this year, can be seen reflected in the drastic drop of student registrations, with only around one third of the number of students registered, compared to previous years. Should Skola Sajf actually start as per schedule, the union feels that those running the service should still exercise extreme caution and constantly monitor the situation meticulously.
The union recommends that, should Skola Sajf go ahead, mandatory testing is done on essential workers, to ensure that they are not the ones to promote the spread of the virus, thus putting the children, and whoever they may come in contact with, at risk. Appropriate cleaning and disinfection of the premises, and the resources in use, should be considered a daily norm, and protective gear should be provided in the form of gloves, masks and face shields. Bathrooms should be fully equipped with running water, soap, toilet paper, sanitizers and disposable towels, and educators working at Skola Sajf are to be instructed to make hand-washing part of the daily routine. Also, social-distancing will need to be enforced at all times.
The union exhorts parents who intend to send their children to Skola Sajf, to stay vigilant and to follow the directives issued by the Health Authorities diligently. Even though the union is fully aware of the importance of going back to work in the summer months, taking the service for granted would not be wise, and planning too far ahead given the uncertainty we are currently living in is not to be contemplated. It is to be borne in mind that there is still the possibility of Skola Sajf not opening its doors, should the number of active cases not be sufficiently low to justify the re-opening of Skola Sajf, or should there be a second or a third wave that requires the isolation period to be extended, within the next few weeks. The same holds true about the possibility of cessation of the services of Skola Sajf by the Health Authorities, should the numbers start rising again once its doors are opened to the public.
The situation is harrowing, and the uncertainty it is bringing with it is unnerving. As things stand at present, no certainty can be established and no plan can be confirmed. When it comes to Skola Sajf, its organisers are ensuring they are not caught unprepared should it be possible and recommendable to embark on the venture, but even they cannot honestly say that it will set off and follow through to the end of summer.