July 26, 2021

In Malta, teenagers on language stays blocked because of health restrictions

« Arthur [tous les prénoms ont été modifiés] came home, her mother sighs on the phone, but some are still stuck there. “ Over there, it’s Malta. Young French people, aged 13 to 17, who left two weeks ago for a language stay organized by the organization Education First (EF), found themselves stranded on the island, Saturday July 10. Ban on leaving their hotel room: three cases of Covid-19 having been detected during tests before their departure, they were declared contact cases.

Thirty students would be affected, according to the parents who have set up a WhatsApp loop to keep abreast of the situation. Children must remain isolated for fourteen days, in accordance with Maltese regulations.

Read also Covid-19 around the world: from Portugal to Canada to Malta, restriction measures target tourists

“We don’t lock 15-year-old kids in a hotel room like that without someone to accompany them and reassure them”, protests Arthur’s mother. To hear parents and children, the latter were largely left to fend for themselves at the hotel. Some « leaders », as the animators supervising these stays are nicknamed, would have returned to France, even though the children were placed in fourteen. “There were two of us per room, we were supposed to stay locked up all the time, but we had to go out to get water, because the water from the tap is not drinkable”, says Arthur. “We were brought our midday meal to the door, but for the evening we were supposed to manage to order food at our expense. “

Forgotten suitcases, unusable showers, lack of air conditioning … several parents also deplore the conditions of isolation “Unacceptable”. “I am very worried for my daughter, she will not last a fortnight like that, she called me in tears”, reports the father of Jeanne, 15 years old. His daughter is one of the children who tested positive for Covid-19. “We did not even do a PCR test to confirm the results of the antigens, he protests. Despite our requests, she was unable to see a doctor, even on video, or received medication. ”

Parents “in the dark”

Parents also regret the lack of communication from the organization. “We were completely in the dark, we had very little information from EF”, emphasizes a parent, who paid “Almost 3,000 euros” for his son’s stay. “We barely received an email to tell us that they weren’t coming home on Saturday afternoon, when they were supposed to land in Paris on Sunday, and that they had already been isolated at the hotel since the day before. ” Most learned about isolation directly from their children’s mouths. “I didn’t know what to say to him. At 14, they cannot manage the anxiety of isolation on their own. There should have been psychological support, something ”, resumes the worried father.

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