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School defends closing over family mourning

A school that closed its doors for a day due to family mourning has defended its decision saying that respect for a family’s grief was “a matter of grave consequence and should be honoured as such”.

St Catherine’s High School was reacting to a story in The Times which quoted several parents criticising the move, forcing parents to make alternative arrangements for their children.

The Pembroke school said it fully understood “the complications and inconveniences” that arose when it announced it would close for mourning. It also “empathised” with the parents who had to sort out childcare arrangements at such short notice.

However, it said the tragic death which triggered the decision affected more than one member of the senior management.

“The person who passed away was the brother of the head of school, Marie Midolo, and also the brother of two other members of the senior management team and not simply... the uncle of Sue Mifsud Midolo. Three sisters lost a brother on that day.”

Before going to print, The Times had made numerous attempts to contact the school’s directors for their side of the story and even sent questions by e-mail but no reply was forthcoming. The school only issued a statement after the article appeared.

The school said it was committed to holistic education, “where values are given their rightful place”.

“We strongly believe education and schooling is not simply a journey of academic content delivery or the addition of cumulative hours in a particular place but a journey of facilitating the development of conscientious, civically respectful, charismatic lifelong learners who will contribute to the welfare of society as adults.

“Within this scenario, the school feels that the respect towards the grief of a family who has suffered the passing away of a direct relative is a matter of grave consequence and should be honoured as such, in spite of the inconvenience caused,” it said in a statement.

Through an e-mail sent on October 17, seen by this newspaper, parents of the 500 students who attend the private independent school were informed by director Sue Mifsud Midolo that “there will be no school tomorrow due to a family mourning”.

A number of parents had filed complaints about the issue to the Education Ministry but such decisions are outside the ministry’s remit.

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