Prime Minister Robert Abela has said he would like to see schools postponing the upcoming carnival holidays to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by keeping children in schools. 

He made the remarks during a news conference where fresh COVID-19 mitigation measures for the month of February were announced.

“If it was up to me alone, that is what I would like to see happen,” he said. 

Schools traditionally take a two-day break in February so that families can enjoy carnival festivities, which are cancelled this year.

Asked by Times of Malta whether the government was looking at cancelling the holidays, especially since it had recently argued keeping children in schools kept the number of new cases down, Abela again said this is his “wish”. 

Pressed further, he confirmed there are talks underway with the education authorities and the stakeholders involved but he said he would not impose his wish on anyone. 

The holidays, he said, would not be “lost”, under his suggestion, but could be potentially taken either before the summer holidays or slotted in on other days throughout the term. 

Malta reopened its schools for the second term earlier in January two days late after the teachers’ union called a strike over fears the number of new cases were too high and the government’s refusal to shift lessons online. 

The authorities had insisted keeping children in school was safer and they had data showing there were less infections this way. 

In its initial reaction, the Malta Union of Teachers said it was not ready to discuss the issues as the school calendar was something agreed upon in the sectoral agreement. 

In another statement, the smaller Union of Professional Educators also said it was against the postponement of school holidays and again questioned what was agreed a few weeks ago between the MUT and the government following the educators strike. 

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