Plans to reopen schools for the summer programme SkolaSajf are still "on track", according to Education Minister Owen Bonnici who has insisted the authorities are working to ensure all is in place by July. 

Education authorities are working on the assumption that children will be returning to school for the summer programme, unless health authorities rule otherwise.

"We've said this from the start - while it is the health authorities who decide whether we reopen the schools or not, we do not want to be in a position where we are given the go-ahead to start welcoming students but are unable to do so because we didn't have plans in place," Bonnici told Times of Malta.

Schools have been shut since mid-March as the number of coronavirus cases in Malta increased. While schools were initially only shut for a few weeks, the closure was extended until September. 

Now, as the country enters the 'transition' phase, with the reopening of restaurants and hairdressers on Friday, questions have been raised about the plans for schools. 

According to Bonnici, though only around 5,000 students have enrolled in the summer programme, half the usual number, the same number of educators have signed up. 

That meant that practicing social distancing rules with the children will be easier because there will be the capacity to have smaller groups. The ministers said all schools were also equipped with hand sanitiser to ensure proper hygiene. 

Meanwhile, O and A level exams that were postponed to September are still also scheduled to be held. 

"I don't see why, with the proper social distancing measures, exams cannot be held. Everything is on track for that to happen too," Bonnici said. 

The education authorities were adhering to guidelines issued by the United Nations when drafting the roadmap towards the reopening of schools, he said. 

Faculty of Education unveils outreach programme

On Friday, the University's Education Faculty unveiled an online-based outreach programme for students, parents and educators. 

The platform - lovetoteach.info - aims to provide support to those struggling with education-related issues during the coronavirus outbreak, and will host webinars with different speakers on a regular basis. 

"We felt that we should share our knowledge with the rest of society and that is why, in recent weeks, we have been working on setting up this outreach programme," Faculty dean Colin Calleja said. 

 

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