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TG voices concern on ‘return to school’ protocols

Together Gibraltar has expressed concern about the return to school today, flagging what it described as “a good deal of confused information as to what is safe and what is not” on issues such as safety protocols and face masks.

The party said it is worried about how the Gibraltar Government plans to provide continued education in the event of any future lockdowns.

In a statement, TG said this “confusion” could have been avoided with timely action and a sense of “consistent, coherent leadership”.

Together Gibraltar said it was “dismayed” that the Department of Education had only shared its Covid-19 safety protocols for schools just a few days before the start of term.

“In the process there was little and late consultation with stakeholders, so these have been late in informing parents,” said Together Gibraltar.

“In situations such as these, inadequate communication always leads to inadequate implementation of protocols.”
TG said other countries were providing for outdoor classrooms and implementing online lessons combined with face-to-face learning.

In contrast, Gibraltar’s protocols are like “a plan without a plan”.

Together Gibraltar said these “do not propose any creative ways to implement the most important of all prophylactic measures, social distance, and disguises this inability as concern for the children’s development.”

“Together Gibraltar believes the document displays an embarrassing lack of direction on issues like mask wearing,” the party said.

“By recommending but not mandating their use, the department are clearly avoiding their responsibility, offloading the burden on teachers and school staff.”

“This collective, potentially the most affected by this lacklustre management, is already working under great pressure and should not have to judge when or not to implement public health policy.”

The party said it recognised that mandating masks for school children is “far from ideal”, but believes that the precautionary principle should always apply, adding: “It is for this reason that, unless adequate social distancing can be implemented, children of the ages of 11 and over should wear masks at all times.”

“Considering the little headway made in these past six months, Together Gibraltar is also concerned about how the education system will respond to potential future lockdowns,” the party said.

“While it is understandable that plans were improvised in response to a new and unexpected reality, opportunities to develop online classes and remote learning at least across the main key stages were not taken, to the disadvantage of Gibraltar’s students and the increasing concern of their parents.”

“Given the time that has elapsed since the start of this crisis, it would be hard to justify not allowing for online learning of the national curriculum if there were to be a second lockdown.”

“TG will always be willing to offer its support for courageous, resolute leadership in the safeguarding of our community.”

“The party therefore urges Government to implement these measures with the greatest urgency.”