For several months, since the beginning of the pandemic, the Union of Professional Educators – Voice of the Workers, has been receiving communications, from parents and educators alike, with regards to their concerns on the lack of hygiene which schools have exhibited in the past. Many mentioned dubious practices in cleanliness and hygiene in schools, as being one of the major concerns they have when considering sending their children back to school in September.
One blatant example of stunted hygiene in the last scholastic year was evidenced in the lack of water supply at Tarxien Primary, where, for weeks, basic cleaning was precluded from taking place effectively. with water being impossible to come by. Tarxien Primary cannot be singled out as being the only school with plumbing systems which are very old; many schools constructed in the same period have equally ancient plumbing systems which might not be able to support the more intensive use of water which will be required under pandemic conditions.
Children will be required to wash their hands more frequently, and cleaning schedules will need to be intensified: so how, we ask, can a flawed plumbing system provide effectively for such intense use?
In addition to that, the union received numerous complaints about the provision of disposables. We were made aware, during our meetings at the ministry, that the government has invested on the provision of disposable towels and dispensers, yet many educators stated that the dispensers were left empty, or that a towel was left in bathrooms, for days on end, for everyone to use. The query which educators have been posing, since the incumbent need to avoid sharing anything handled manually has become paramount, has been “How can we trust that provisions will be made, now that the need has intensified, when under normal circumstances basic provisions were unavailable for use?” This does not augur well for a safe re-entry.
What will happen then, when over and above the Covid-19 issue, schools will have to deal with seasonal flu? Will the levels of cleanliness adequately reflect the current state of affairs?
Should this concern also be yours, whether you are a member or a non-member, the UPE cordially invites you to take part in a survey it is currently conducting, by following the link found here, so that your voice will join ours on this issue.