Residential training despite the pandemic: lessons from Malta

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09 October 2020

Organising a residential activity in times of coronavirus has proved to be more challenging than ever before. Planning and preparedness is greater –as it is the responsibility over the well-being of participants. First and foremost, safety is the main priority.

Our colleagues from the Academy for Disciplined Forces at the Ministry for Home Affairs of Malta have been one of the first partners in facing such challenge. Having been enquired about actions taken to mitigate the coronavirus impact on their onsite training activity “58/2020 Language development - Professional law enforcement terminology in English”, they have gladly accepted to share their own experience.

Xanthe Schembri, manager of the Academy for Disciplined Forces, described: “The first challenge was having a number of active Covid-19 cases reported in Malta and some Member States imposing severe travel restrictions. This had an impact, first on the nominations; and secondly, on the participants, some of them reluctant to travel and take risks. We had participants cancelling and saw countries re-nominating potential replacements until two days before the residential activity started. Additionally, flights’ schedules were suffering fluctuations until the very last moment. Fast forward to the first day, all participants arrived safely.”

Bring Your Own Test… or take it onsite!

Participants were asked to get themselves tested for Covid-19. Upon their arrival, they had to present a negative Covid-19 test. Those who could not bring test results with them, had to book a visit to a test site and get the results within hours.

“The idea was to have all participants being tested since the beginning to minimize the risk of Covid-19 spread. Everyone taking part in the course, including the two main lecturers and myself, took the test to ensure the safety of all those attending the activity”, Schembri stresses.

Other measures our Maltese colleagues have put in place:

  • Facemask wearing compulsory during lectures;

  • Daily temperature checks –protocol established that suspected cases had to stay in the hotel room and follow the course online through a designated platform;

  • Disinfection of main conference and breakout sessions rooms several times per day;

  • Adoption of social distancing rules;

  • Use of own stationary instead of share-it-all;

  • Groups > 15 forbidden, unless sitting in class or using spaces where social distancing was possible;

  • Individual journals by participants to trace contacts after course hours;

  • Coffee break station placed outdoors.

Everything seems to have run smoothly until today, the last day of the English language development course –the longest CEPOL residential training activity that concentrates on improving the language skills of law enforcement professionals playing key role in EU/international law enforcement cooperation. Participants of this highly interactive course directly experience and learn to use a range of strategies, skills and language patterns in order to ensure more effective and clear communication in English through a cycle of fluency- and accuracy-based communicative tasks and roles.


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