Education Minister Evarist Bartolo has lifted a blanket ban on earrings at schools, just two days after it was implemented.

On Monday Mr Bartolo said that the ban was effective immediately and was being implemented for health and safety reasons.

It came after the parents of a 12-year-old boy complained that his Gozo school was forbidding boys from wearing studs, while allowing girls to do so. 

In a Facebook post on Wednesday morning, however, the minister said that after consulting with some parents, he had decided to lift the ban on studs.

“I have received calls from parents who wish to allow their children to wear studs to school, so that those whose ears are pieced don’t close," he said. "I’m not against students wearing studs to school that aren’t a risk to their safety unlike hoops (imsielet).”

His final say on the issue was that “children can wear studs but not hoops”. Dr Bartolo did not specify whether the policy would apply to girls only or both genders.

Gozo school controversy

Mr Bartolo had said that the decision forbidding students from wearing earrings had nothing to do with equality concerns.

However, it happened a day after a mother first raised the issue when she complained that her son was told by Gozo College teachers that he couldn't wear his studs because he was not a girl.

Reacting to the new policy on studs, the 12-year-old's mother said: "I think we won this as it states ALL students."

She said her son would again wear the jewellery to school on Thursday, following the announcement. 

'Hasty and absurd'

The Maltese Association of Parents of State School Students (MAPSSS) had also released a statement on Wednesday morning calling the complete earring ban “hasty and absurd.”

It urged the Directorate for Educational Services to revoke its rushed decision and allow children to wear flat studs (retainers) which are considered a safe alternative to hoops.

Furthermore, the association stated that the grounds on which the blanket ban were called, namely health and safety were “a smokescreen” and the health risk was greater with the constant removal of the earrings.

“MAPSSS notes that the constant removal and placing of the earring increases the chances of infection, definitely defeating the purpose of “health reasons” mentioned in the directive issued by DG Educational Services.”

Additionally, since the ban was not mentioned in the new uniform policy parents were complaining that they had not been given sufficient warning, the statement read. 

“The haste of the decision has caused an issue to parents who had just pierced their child’s ears and who had been asked specifically not to remove the said earrings for a number of weeks, to minimise the risk of infection and to avoid the closure of any recently-done piercing,” said MAPSS.