The education authorities have commissioned risk assessments for every school, Education Minister Owen Bonnici said on Thursday, as talks with the teachers’ union resumed.

Independent inspectors approved by the Occupational Health and Safety Authority (OHSA) have visited every school to assess whether the protocols outlined by the health authorities have been implemented “on the ground”. 

Visiting the Kirkop College, Bonnici said that the school is one which has already been certified as having the protocols in place. The minister shared his views via a live Facebook video shared on his page filmed while he was given a tour of the school.

Meanwhile, after describing a meeting with the prime minister on the reopening of schools as “inconclusive”, the Malta Union of Teachers announced later on in the day that talks with the education authorities had resumed. 

On Wednesday, the union said talks with the Education Ministry had failed and went on to hold an urgent council meeting to discuss the way forward. 

According to the union, meetings with the ministry are set to resume on Thursday afternoon. 

Schools are set to reopen on Monday, despite COVID-19 concerns, with teachers and parents claiming a number of issues remain unresolved. Malta closed its schools in March when COVID-19 first hit the island. 

The government has insisted that the reopening of schools is to go ahead, while unions want schooling to commence online while issues related to the COVID-19 protocols are ironed out.  

Prime Minister Robert Abela said on Sunday that keeping schools closed would be a bigger risk than the coronavirus but parents should not be forced to send their children to school in the current circumstances and should be given a choice.

Meanwhile, on Thursday afternoon, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said Malta, together with six other EU countries, is of “high concern” due to the rising COVID-19 death rates. Malta’s rate is currently the third-highest. 

It remains unclear whether this will, in any way, impact the reopening of schools. 

Times of Malta has reached out to the health authorities for comment. 

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