Language schools ‘shocked’ by sudden closure, condemn ‘lack of government direction’

Last Updated on Saturday, 10 July, 2021 at 1:39 pm by Andre Camilleri

English language schools were “unprepared and shocked” by the government’s “unexpected and rigid decision” to close down ELT schools, the Federation of English Language Teaching Organisations Malta (FELTOM) said.

On Friday, the government announced that ELT schools will close down on Wednesday 14 July amid a new spike in Covid-19 cases. The authorities say most of the new cases were English language students, and active cases were found at 9 ELT schools.

“The sudden announcement of the closure of a specific section of the tourism market will be problematic not only for language schools but also for the entire tourism sector and other stakeholders, not to mention the greater EU tourism market. This sudden unilateral decision by the Government sends out a message that a cluster that did not emerge from any breach of protocols by operators within their schools, can lead to such disproportionate and extreme measures.”

It said that this will have significant economic consequences to the entire tourism industry, its employees and its stakeholders.

“We respect the decision of Government to restrict entry to Malta to fully vaccinated persons. However, we feel that the Government has not allowed adequate time to the affected stakeholders to manage this sudden reversal of policies for all tourism. We feel that this is a drastic reaction reached by the Government without proper consultation with the stakeholders of the consequences and implications on the ELT Schools, its employees, its students (present and future) and all the stakeholders. Even with fully vaccinated tourists we can expect that similar clusters will occur in hotels and other tourist establishments and we ask to what extent will Government take similar measures to close these operators.”

“Our member schools have, under the constant direction of, and collaboration with, the Public Health, implemented and followed the rules and guidelines as outlined by the authorities. Rest assured that the ELT Schools have invested enormous resources in terms of time, money, manpower and materials so that their schools operate within the parameters of these guidelines. Subsequently, while the schools have impressed on their employees and students the importance of adhering to the measures, including mask wearing and social distancing while in public, the reinforcement of such measures by the government has been barely visible, bearing in mind that it is only government that has the authority to enforce such measures. The closure of ALL ELT schools is not warranted especially as the Government is now going to restrict entry to Malta to fully vaccinated persons in line with EU issued certificates. Schools should be allowed to remain open like all other public institutions to these vaccinated visitors. Most schools have actually done this successfully in the last 15 months or so without an increase in Covid cases in Malta.”

FELTOM condemned the “lack of direction from government considering the thousands of clients already on the island currently left with no guidance and direction.”

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