The Education Department is trying to manage fears about the possible spread of covid in schools by pretending it doesn’t exist. Several children have not stepped into a school yet and yet unconfirmed reports of positive testing amongst staff of several educational institutions are spreading all over social media.

I’m not in the business of giving vent to rumours. But I’m not the one doing that here. The government’s silence breathes life into this information and right or wrong it is scaring the bejesus out of parents.

I’ve seen reports of positive results at the engineering department at MCAST, the  government’s Tarxien primary, the middle school in Naxxar, secondary schools in Mosta, Qormi, Dingli and Ħamrun as well as the Muslim community’s school in Paola and an independent school in Pembroke.

Now positive tests results mean that the security protocols erected were good enough to detect these cases. It also means you can have contact tracing, fumigation and isolated lock-downs were appropriate, ensuring the one doesn’t infect the many. There’s no way that all of this can be stopped completely until the pandemic recedes. And it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen any time soon.

But what the government needs to do differently is allowing unofficial, unconfirmed and uncomfortable information to fill the vacuum left by its silence. Parents need to know what the government knows when it knows it. Grandparents too. Many children live in the same household as grandparents or return home to them every afternoon. That alone is a matter of concern.

That concern can only be alleviated if we can see the extent to which the anti-covid protocols in schools are working. And we can only make an informed judgement if we are informed: properly, regularly and officially.

No doubt the government does not like us worrying. Keeping secrets from us is not going to stop us worrying. If anything it makes things worse.

PS Owen, stick your bloody nose behind the mask, please.