The Federation of English Language Teaching Organizations in Malta (FELTOM) has reacted with shock and disbelief to the government’s decision to close English language schools following a spike in COVID-19 cases among students strangers.
The association has condemned what it says is the government’s lack of direction when it comes to the thousands of customers already on the island who have been left without guidance.
“FELTOM and its member schools were unprepared and shocked by the government’s unexpected and rigid decision to close ELT schools. The sudden announcement of the closure of a specific segment 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 tourism market in the country. EU as a whole.
“This sudden unilateral decision by the government sends the message that a cluster that has emerged from no breaches of protocols by operators within their schools can lead to such disproportionate and extreme measures. Inevitably, this will have economic consequences. important to the entire tourism industry, its employees and its stakeholders.
The organization said that while respecting the decision to restrict entry to Malta to those who are fully vaccinated, it believes that the government has not allowed sufficient time for relevant stakeholders to manage this sudden policy reversal for everyone. tourism.
“We believe this is a drastic response taken by the government without adequate stakeholder consultation on the consequences and implications on ELT schools, its employees, students (present and future) and all stakeholders. . Even with fully vaccinated tourists, we can expect similar clusters to occur in hotels and other tourist establishments and wonder to what extent the government will take similar action to shut down these operators.
“Our member schools have, under the constant direction and collaboration of public health, implemented and followed the rules and directives set by the authorities. Rest assured that ELT schools have invested enormous resources in terms of time, money, labor and materials to keep their schools operating within the parameters of these guidelines.
While schools have made their employees and students aware of the importance of respecting measures, including wearing masks and social distancing in public, FELTOM complained that the government’s strengthening of these measures “has been barely visible, knowing that only the government has the power to apply such measures.
FELTOM argued that the closure of all ELT schools was not justified, particularly given that the government would now restrict entry to Malta to those fully vaccinated in accordance with certificates issued by the EU.
“Schools should be allowed to remain open like all other public institutions to these vaccinated visitors. Most schools have done this successfully for the past 15 months or so with no increase in Covid cases in Malta,” FELTOM said.