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GSD welcomes decision on school changes

The GSD said it supports the decision to close schools for the purposes of traditional teaching as from Monday.

The party said it also supported the decision to use the schools in order to provide alternative arrangements for children to ensure they are kept away from vulnerable people and supervised in a safe environment.

It said the UK’s decision to close schools and cancel exams removed any possible prejudice that local students could have suffered if normal schooling had been withdrawn too early.

Leader of the Opposition Keith Azopardi said: “It is important the new arrangements are subject to periodic review as the time may well come when Gibraltar needs to go into a general lockdown.”

“Should this occur then a general closure of all school buildings will almost certainly be the only alternative, save strict exceptions for children whose parents are providing vitally essential services and have no alternative childcare arrangements.”

“In practice the decision now is being taken exclusively on public health grounds – to minimise the spread of Covid-19 while keeping this away from the vulnerable.”

“Our schools have largely remained open up to now because rightly or wrongly the Government has taken the view, on advice, that otherwise many children would engage with grandparents if they were not in school and, because, a very high percentage of healthcare workers and others who provide crucially important services would have childcare problems.”

“Whether these arrangements go far enough will depend on whether the developing Covid-19 panorama requires more radical measures in days to come.”

“How fast this is developing is brought into sharp focus when we consider that only a week ago the Government was saying it backed cancellation of the Abortion Referendum for democratic legitimacy reasons and not on public health grounds.”

“It is obvious that this was unviable then from the public health perspective. Imagine the spectacle of having the referendum today in this climate?”

“The fact is that Governments worldwide have been caught by surprise at the effects of Covid-19 and its rapid spread and have been playing catch-up for weeks. There may be a need to do more in many aspects of this crisis.”

Shadow Minister for Education, Edwin Reyes, said: “It is important that Gibraltar acts sensibly and in unison in order to ‘flatten the curve’ as the UK Prime Minister has repeatedly stressed.”

“Gibraltar should forever be grateful to its dedicated teachers and all support/auxiliary staff for their continued co-operation in helping to protect our most vulnerable as far as humanly possible.”

“We trust teachers will continue to be as supportive whilst making arrangements for the days immediately ahead.”

“At a personal level teachers and other staff involved in providing facilities for our children should seek professional medical advice in respect of their own medical vulnerability to this virus where their personal circumstances so demand.”

“I further beg parents whose children will remain at home to bear in mind that they can make very valuable contributions by not coming into physical close contact with the most vulnerable and elder members of our community.”

“I trust parents to plan sensible activities to occupy their children’s minds over the coming days and not to simply send them out into our parks or streets which may encourage the spread of the virus.”

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