The Nadur primary school is scheduled to close down for refurbishment in the coming months, and parents are expressing growing concern over the impact this will have on their children's education. 

The Education Ministry is planning on relocating all Kinder One to Year Three students to the Xagħra Primary School, while students in Year Four to Year Six classrooms will be transferred to the Għajnsielem Primary School.

The Għajnsielem school is scheduled to see an additional 90 students while the Xagħra school will see an influx of 130 students.

Sources told Times of Malta that works to accommodate the new students have already started at both schools.

"They're building partitions in the halls and converting storerooms, music rooms and art rooms into make-shift classrooms," one source said.

Parents from all three school who spoke to Times of Malta said most of them opposed the move.

Nadur parents have started signing a petition calling on the ministry to postpone works till the beginning of the summer holidays and to carry out the work in phases, avoiding the need to relocate students.

They are concerned over how possible it will be for COVID restrictions to be adhered to, about the restricted times students will be able to play in the grounds, drop-off and pick-up issues, and the schools' lack of resources.

"The Xagħra and Għajnsielem schools are two of the most populated in Gozo, and we are concerned over how well the schools will be able to control COVID restrictions with such a huge influx," one parent said.

"One of my children is in Year Two and the other is in Year Five," another Nadur parent said. "They used to walk it to school, but now I will need to drive them to two different schools in two different localities."

In their petition, parents acknowledge that the school "has been in need of a thorough refurbishment for quite some time", and sources close to the Nadur school said the building is in dire need of renovation.

There are structural problems in the classrooms, the floor and the bathrooms, they said.

During a meeting with the Education Ministry's Permanent Secretary Francis Fabri earlier this month, parents suggested their children are relocated to other places in Nadur, or to smaller schools, such as the ones in San Lawrenz, Għarb, Żebbuġ, or the University of Gozo.

'Ministry threatens to drop refurbishment plans'

However, they said they felt the Ministry had already made up its mind. They claimed being told that if they were not happy with the works, the Ministry could just drop the refurbishment plans and renovate another school.

"It felt threatening," said one parent. "Just because we were raising concern and offering suggestions doesn't mean we're against refurbishment. But it felt like they were telling us that we could either accept their plan, or else they would abandon the project completely."

The Ministry told parents that refurbishment will be completed within a year, but many remain unconvinced, given the extensive structural work required to refurbish the place.

When contacted, the Education Ministry said the government was prioritising education infrastructure with an investment of €59 million for schools in Gozo, including the one in Nadur.

It said the students were being relocated to "safeguard their health and safety during the renovations".

"Two options are being explored: relocation in Nadur itself or to other schools," the Ministry said.

"Should the latter be the option [we go for], transport will be provided and all COVID-related protocols will be adhered to."

The Education Ministry announced the €4 million renovation project last July.

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