A couple has been left in limbo after being informed that their twins have been denied a spot at a public school due to Malta’s new COVID-19 restrictions.
Sandra Engels and Isabelle Stroobants moved from Attard to Msida last July and wanted to transfer their seven-year-old children to the Msida primary school, which has temporarily been relocated to Santa Venera pending construction of a new school.
They told Lovin Malta that the school initially told them to provide documentation from Identity Malta as proof that they had moved house, a process they embarked on.
Communication between parents and school continued, including a face to face meeting, but the parents were informed last Monday that they couldn’t accept their children due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“Please note that owing to social distancing restrictions within our classrooms, presently we do not have available places at Msida Primary,” the school wrote. “In the circumstances, we can entertain your request at Lija Primary. Once the situation will permit, your twin children will be transferred to Msida Primary School.”
The parents said that they don’t have a car, which means their children will have to wake up extremely early everyday to catch a bus to school, whereas travelling to the Santa Venera school would only involve a short walk.
They also voiced concern that they will be exposed to more people this way, increasing the risk of them catching COVID-19.
“[The Education Ministry’s permanent secretary] Frank Fabri said schools should reopen physically because children need to socialise with each other, and we completely agree with him,” they said.
“Malta has a lot of great public schools but it should be reasonable for children in terms of distance they need to travel.”
“It’s not a problem if our children need to walk for 20 minutes, but we don’t want to make them catch a bus at 6am so they can arrive on time in Lija.”
Public schools are set to gradually reopen for students on 7th October with a raft of new measures intended to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Public health guidelines for schools include placing “the least number of students possible” in each classroom to create more space and ensuring a physical distance of 1.5 metres between students in all directions is maintained throughout lessons.
Lovin Malta has reached out to the Education Ministry to inquire whether they are aware of this incident.