MAPSSS would like to express various concerns of parents of students attending State Schools. These span various issues including missing education, an increase in COVID-19 new cases, and conflicting messages given to parents.
In view of the record number of new COVID-19 cases announced yesterday, and the admission by the Health Authorities that they are expecting a spike of cases in the coming days, MAPSSS believes that State, Independent and Church Schools should be adopting the same strategy as was done between March and June last year. The health of all students, their educators, and their families remains a priority, irrespective of which school sector they attend.
MAPSSS is also concerned about conflicting information reaching parents. We are saddened to see a situation of students stranded on streets or parents and guardians being asked to pick up their kids from school when they were told that schools will open normally in spite of the strike ordered.
Furthermore, following an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases amongst children, the Health Authorities said that stricter mitigation measures will be adopted at schools to avoid the spread of COVID. At the same time, the Education Authorities have said that all the possible mitigation measures have already been implemented at schools. One asks, what are these new measures and how will they be implemented? One must also note that most children are asymptomatic which means that temperature taking at home and at the school entrance will not detect any fever.
If considering the broader context, it is considered too risky to continue lessons in class, our children should not be deprived of their right to education and should be offered online lessons as other children until this spike is re-evaluated. As in previous months, working parents and their employers should be supported accordingly.
It is indeed of great concern that, in spite of various assurances MAPSSS was given by the Education Ministry that the system is in place for teaching to shift online overnight should the need arise, we are suddenly told that the online system is “not up to scratch”.
MAPSSS believes that in times of a pandemic, all parties need to work together to ensure win-win situations and respect the fundamental right of education for children. We appeal to all parties to get together to find a solution to the current stalemate. The current uncertainty and last-minute decisions are not only disruptive to education, but to all sectors of the economy.