Children will return to schools at the start of the academic year but with face masks, Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou said on Friday after a cabinet meeting where coronavirus protocols were discussed.
The use of masks will be mandatory in all closed areas of the school, he added, and the plan is for all the students to return to the classroom.
Schools are due to reopen on September 7.
Prodromou said: “Our priority along with supplying education is to respect all the hygienic protocols.”
Masks will be worn by students at all levels of public education, from primary to lyceum, and Prodromou said it would be good for private schools to also follow this directive.
The blanket requirement for mask use will be for all children from primary school until lyceum, Prodromou clarified after the meeting. This falls in line with a health ministry decree issued a day before requiring all persons above the age of six to wear masks in closed spaces.
He added that multiple use masks would be allowed. Staff will also be required to wear face masks.
On the application of hygienic protocols in schools, Prodromou said: “Arrangements are already being made for adjusting all the spaces and classrooms.”
Parents will also be sent all the protocols to be followed at schools, and an informational flyer would be issued to the wider public.
Testing is also part of the protocols for the start of the new year and will be conducted on a sample group of teachers and students.
Commenting on any potential changes in coronavirus protocols, Prodromou said they were prepared for anything that will affect the current conditions.
“Specifically, the education ministry along with the research, innovation, and digital policy ministry, a wholistic strategy is being developed for the adequate connection of all the schools to the internet, and simultaneous satisfactory internal wireless connection,” he said.
He said adequate internet access and connection is necessary, as some schools might need to be upgraded for any potential return to distance learning.
Prodromou added there is also ongoing education being conducted for teachers to learn more about digital technology, and ways to upgrade education methods to digital platforms.
On the maximum number of students allowed in classes, Prodromou said they were following the European Union guideline of 25 students per classroom.
He added it was possible by setting up classrooms in a way where there is enough distance between the students. Also, many classrooms are already functioning with less then 25 students in the room, he said.