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Coronavirus: measures to reduce impact of closed schools

Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou

The government will on Monday introduce a trial implementation of internet-based distance learning for Nicosia high-schools as it seeks to minimise the effects of school closures over the coronavirus.

Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou said special training for teachers will also start on Wednesday to help them used the systems.

“With the facts we have before us at the moment we are setting the aim of developing and implementing the potential of remote e-learning that will include lessons in real time,” Prodromou said.

He met with teacher unions and parents on Saturday to brief them on government plans to minimise the lost classroom hours without putting anyone’s health at risk.

“The presence of teachers at the school will respond to particular needs,” Prodromou said. “No one has said that starting Monday teachers will be at school for the duration of its operation.”

Teachers had reacted after the government announced they had to report to their workplace as of Monday despite the schools being shut. Many, who are also parents, complained that they had no where to leave their children.

“In this way, less time will be lost because we will not allow the coronavirus to hurt learning and knowledge and our children’s right to education,” Prodromou said.

The education minister said they will survey pupils to ensure they all have access to a computer and the internet and see how to fill the needs.

Prodromou said teachers who belong in vulnerable groups would not have to take part in the project, but they would be able at a later stage to assist.

Instructions will also be given to school administrations to accommodate teachers who need to look after their children.

“We must move fast. The aim is for children to be able to have an education for as long as they cannot be in school but also for teachers to be able to communicate with them,” Prodromou said.

Secondary education teachers’ union Oelmek expressed concerns over having to report to school on Monday.

Its chairman, Costas Hadjisavvas, said it was an irresponsible decision by the government.

He said teachers were different than the rest of the civil service where employees had their own offices whereas in a school there were between 70 and 100 teachers.

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