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Coronavirus: all options on the table for schools

Primary school children being made to social distance as schools reopened in May (Christos Theodorides)

It is not yet clear how schools will operate from September, the education ministry said on Friday, as increasing coronavirus cases put their normal operation at risk.

Though there was talk of a plan B earlier in the week, a spokesman said the ministry will wait for advice from the coronavirus advisors before deciding how to proceed, and there is not just one plan.

“We are open to all possibilities, we will consider distance learning and not opening the schools, or going back to having few students in a classroom, or open normally, according to what the situation is,” he said.

School unions said the ministry should think carefully before making a decision. Head of secondary school union Oelmek Costas Hadjisavvas warned against the possibility of mishandling the situation.

“The increase in coronavirus cases, especially in view of the beginning of the new school year, should concern everyone, so that the ministry of education, teachers, students and parents are fully prepared and know at all times how to act in the event of a new pandemic wave,” he said in a written statement.

“Unfortunately, despite our warnings and strong reactions during the pandemic, about the severity of this virus and the need to continue the necessary measures, some have underestimated the risk and with the complete relaxation of the measures we seem to be leading to an uncontrolled situation.”

Because of this, the union is planning to meet with the ministry to discuss what should be done.

The secretary general of primary school union Poed Haris Charalambous said the union is worried.

As he told media, the unpleasant developments and the increase in cases are of great concern to Poed since this is accompanied by the beginning of the school year in one month.

“There is really a huge concern, because no one knows exactly what will happen in September and how the schools will open and if they will open.

“We will all know what will happen in the new school year at the last minute. We expect to see the plans the ministry of education announces, because as yet we have not seen them beyond some general ideas. We also have opinions and suggestions to submit on how the start of the school year will take place,” he said.

Private schools are waiting for a decision by the government as well.

“We don’t know yet, we are prepared for both, to teach online or to open normally,” head of the upper primary at the Grammar Junior School Anna Koni told the Cyprus Mail. “This is not the time yet, we will decide towards the end of the month.”

Schools are due to open on September 7 with high school students at state schools set to go in on Friday September 4 to collect books and be separated into classes before lessons begin on the Monday.



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