Updated 4.15pm, adds UPE statement

A meeting between the Malta Union of Teachers, Prime Minister Robert Abela and Education Minister Owen Bonnici on Wednesday did very little to address issues on the reopening of schools, with the union describing the talks as “inconclusive”.

The MUT said that after it had declared that talks with the education authorities had failed on Wednesday, its council held an urgent meeting. A delegation then met Abela, Bonnici and other government officials. 

“This meeting was inconclusive and so the MUT will continue with talks today and its council will once again be meeting later in the afternoon,” the union said. 

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

Teachers who spoke to Times of Malta on condition of anonymity said they were being kept in the dark, often only learning about updates through media reports. 

Some teachers in state schools have been told they will be given more details when they start school on Monday.

Others teaching in Church and private schools said their schools seem to have the situation under control and preparations are in order, though they are still concerned about the uncertainties as a result of the union's and the government’s talks repeatedly failing. 

The MUT said it understands the “urgency for assurances” and is doing “everything possible” in this delicate stage. 

“Once there is any additional information, we will announce it immediately. We remind everyone that we are doing this to protect the health and safety of educators, children and everyone.” 

UPE statement

In another statement, the Union of Professional Educators – Voice of the Workers said it had a meeting with government officials to discuss the reopening of schools.

The union emphasised it felt lessons should be online to safeguard the health and safety of educators, students, and society.

However, if the government insisting on the physical opening of schools, there had to be adequate social distancing, a staggered entry, some form of screen between students and educators, and an adequate provision of personal protective equipment and products including, soap, paper towels, face shields, face masks, and gloves.

The union said that should any of these conditions and provisions not be in place, it will make its disapproval evident by taking action. 

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