Church Schools would like to express their strong reservations at the unilateral decision taken by Government to remove the mandatory use of face masks in schools as of Wednesday 13th April 2022.
This decision, taken at a time when schools have been hardest hit by COVID-19, with record numbers of sick students and staff, is also expected to leave an impact on parents who will have to remain at home to take care of their children.
Throughout discussions with Government on COVID-19 measures in schools, Church Schools always made it very clear that, while they are in favour of the eventual removal of face masks in classrooms, the use of masks has been an effective measure in controlling the pandemic in schools. Therefore, considering that students often spend up to six hours a day together in the same room, this should be the last measure to be withdrawn.
Therefore, Church Schools are appealing to Government to reconsider this decision. They are also recommending that:
- The withdrawal of masks in schools should be postponed to the end of May;
- If the decision to remove masks as of 13th April is retained, each school should be allowed to mandate their use independently, according to its own context and decision;
- If the above two options are not considered, the Government should mandate the removal of masks in schools only for outdoor areas such as grounds, playing fields and other open spaces, while retaining the mandatory use of masks in classrooms and other indoor spaces.
The decision to start removing the mandatory indoor use of masks in Malta by starting with schools risks damaging the positive process of the management of COVID-19 in schools which has been achieved so far between the health authorities and all educational stakeholders, thanks to good communication, mutual cooperation and goodwill.