The MUT understands that all the country is currently waiting anxiously for more information on the way forward about the reopening of schools. The MUT has been pushing for protocols and measures since March but these protocols, by the Health authorities, only started being published as from the beginning of September with kindergarten and post-secondary protocols published only yesterday. Discussions with employers on their implementation started immediately following their publication – hundreds of meetings have been held to date to discuss all scenarios for the reopening of the schools and educational institutions. These were necessary so that the MUT provided the direct feedback of educators to the respective employers.
The MUT is currently engaged with employers to understand how these measures are going to be implemented in reality before a final position is taken. It has been a difficult process and the fact that the Union is still in discussion with all employers, with its members and with other stakeholders is testament to the way the Union is not taking the process lightly. It is the opposite – all members’ questions are the Union’s questions, and all members’ concerns are the Union’s concerns.
Health and safety for all concerned – educators, students, parents and all our families – is a priority throughout all this process and there are many issues with which the MUT is not happy at all. In fact, the implementation measures leave a lot to be desired and in many cases the way forward being proposed is impractical and cannot, in reality, be implemented effectively. The MUT is not satisfied that the implementation of measures proposed for schools will protect effectively the health and safety of all concerned. There are still too many unanswered questions by employers and the risk of having a spike in new COVID-19 cases with disastrous consequences as soon as schools reopen is real. As things stand, schools are simply not ready to reopen and solutions are lacking. Also, the number of new daily cases this week – before schools have even started – is of serious concern as we are facing one of the worst situations when it comes to the number of cases registered daily and similarly the corresponding R-Factor. In its appeals to the government, the MUT has made it clear that it is the Government’s responsibility to take measures so that the pandemic is under control, as this affects the re-opening plans.
In view of all the above, the MUT Council this morning has unanimously voted to:
– request postponement of the physical reopening of all educational institutions including State, Church, independent, pre-compulsory, compulsory, post-secondary and tertiary. The MUT is hereby making the formal request to the Government;
– request certification of schools by competent authorities before it can accept students. Schools need to be certified as compliant with the respective protocol;
– MUT is hereby limiting its position to the above measures but in view of the developing situation it shall be issuing further updates in the coming days.
The MUT would also like to emphasise the fact that it is ultimately the EMPLOYERS’ responsibility to ensure the health and safety of their staff and their students. The Union’s role in all this is to make sure this is upheld. Despite this, the MUT has also proposed many other measures which are currently being discussed to seek solutions rather than just pointing out problems. All this is being done with the understanding that educators WANT to go back to school, but with the right measures and safeguards in place to protect everyone concerned. If not, the MUT does not exclude escalating measures accordingly.
The MUT thanks all educators for their constant support and takes note of all the comments, suggestions and queries being made regarding this issue. The Union assures its members that it is doing its utmost to protect educators, students and their families.