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Cards to pick up kids from school to be issued by month’s end

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An entry card for people picking up children from primary schools must be introduced by the end of the month, according to a circular issued by the education ministry, drawing criticism from teachers on Saturday.

Use of a card was decided by the cabinet, along with other security measures, following the abduction in September of two boys from a Larnaca primary school. The suspected perpetrator, a 34-year-old man, was arrested on the same day and boys were unharmed.

In a circular to head masters, primary education director Christos Hadjiathanasiou said procedures to issue the entry cards to the people authorised to pick up children must start immediately.

Any issues or problems that may arise will be examined before the next school year, the circular said.

“Cultivating a security culture in our schools is of primary importance,” Hadjiathanasiou said. “Affording adequate security and protection to pupils during the school’s operation by putting in place specific, effective measures according to the conditions of individual units, is a priority for the education ministry and all teachers.”

The director appealed for cooperation in a bid for the measure to be successful.

But the chairman of primary school teachers union Filios Fylactou immediately reacted to the publication of the circular on his Facebook account.

Fylactou said the union had tabled its views and reservations to the health and safety committee, adding that a card would not offer additional security without high fences, door cameras and guards.

“That is why we proposed implementing it on a trial basis at some schools and record the positives, negatives, and so on,” he said.

Instead, the ministry went ahead and announced its introduction.

In October the ministry announced that it would proceed immediately to fence off all schools, to install intercoms to control entry, and to assign guards to primary schools and kindergartens from 7am to 8am.

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