While schools are closed…

COVID-19 is forcing everyone to come to terms with a reality that is a bitter pill to swallow. It is a difficult moment and at times like this we are forced to reconsider and to think about what truly matters. And that is definitely not grades or examination marks.

Like the rest of the world, our country is witnessing some bizarre situations at these most difficult times. On the one hand we see doctors, nurses and so many other professionals working round the clock, sometimes sacrificing their own lives, to assist the people who have been struck by the Corona Virus. On the other hand, we see people fighting over toilet paper.

If this virus has taught us anything, it is the lengths to which people will go when desperate. Please remember that the next time you judge human beings fleeing their war torn homeland to protect themselves and their loved ones.

Albus Dumbledore, the principal of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry says

It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.

J. K. Rolling (1998) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

When a boy or girl misbehaves at school, I often challenge them on the kind of choices they are making. There are times when the right choice means saying or doing something. There are times when the right choice is NOT saying or doing something. Almost everyone is able to raid supermarkets, to steal hand-sterilisers from hospitals, to bulk buy medicine which most probably we may not even need. But what does that say about our choices?

Many people today feel entitled to some form of special treatment because of this or that. Well, another lesson that this virus is teaching us is that after all, no one is that special. Unfortunately we often encounter this sense of entitlement in our students – I have a right to this and that… The truth is we also have responsibilities.

This virus is somewhat scary, but even scarier is the way some people are behaving, by being irresponsible, by not following official recommendations, by spreading fake news or playing the experts on Facebook. I can assure you that the experts at the moment are not on Facebook. They are busy on the front line trying to find a solution to this crisis.

We all have a part to play in this situation. Schools may be closed but we are not on holiday. As much as possible stay inside and keep children inside. Children should also spend time engaged in meaningful activities.

Over the past days I have been working closely with teachers to identify tasks and activities that students can do while the schools remain closed and they are cooped up at home. I have created a web page entitled School Closure Activities. At the moment of writing, this page is empty but over the next days, I will be adding material to it. Please be patient. The virus did not exactly give us much warning and we are doing our utmost.

In the meantime, for those parents and children who need something to do and need it quick, here are a few ideas:

  • Finish and revise work that was assigned before the schools closed.
  • Read a book.
  • Look at the Summer Activity Challenges from previous years and take up some of the tasks there.
  • Look at this great page from Actions for Happiness on how to respond constructively to the Corona Virus.
  • Specifically for parents, this page from UNICEF gives practical tips on how to speak to children about the Corona Virus and the current situation.
  • Check out a newly founded Facebook group called Home Activities during School Lock Down in which parents and teachers are sharing tons of great ideas!

A note on language – Malta has 3 official languages, Maltese, English, and Maltese Sign Language. I appreciate that some may prefer receiving information in Maltese and in as much as possible we will try to make information available in both languages. However, this is not always humanly possible.

Nota dwar l-użu tal-lingwa – F’Malta għandna tliet lingwi uffiċċjali, il-Malti, l-Ingliż, u l-Lingwa tas-Sinjali bil-Malti. Nifhem li forsi xi wħud jippreferu informazzjoni bil-Malti u sa fejn hu possibli qed nippruvaw li l-informazzjoni tkun kemm bil-Malti kif ukoll bl-Ingliż. Iżda fuq livell uman, dan mhux dejjem ikun possibli.

Given the amount of time our children spend watching television and playing online games, we realise that most of our students have become very fluent in English. If a post is in English and you experience difficulties with it, then challenge your child to read and translate it for you. You will be doing him/her a favour.

It-tfal iqattgħu ħafna ħin jaraw it-televiżjoni u jilagħbu logħob online. Dan qed iwassal biex it-tfal tagħna qed jifhmu u jitkellmu l-Ingliż ħafna aktar minn qatt qabel. Jekk xi ħadd għandu diffikulta’ bl-Ingliż, xprunaw it-tfal biex jaqraw u jitradduċu l-informazzjoni li ngħaddulkom bl-Ingliż għall-Matli. Tkunu qed tagħmlulhom il-ġid!

Watch this space for more and please stay safe.

Charlot Cassar
Head of School