Staff or students presenting suspected coronavirus symptoms at schools will be taken to an isolation area until seen by medical authorities, Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou said on Saturday ahead of the first day of the academic year on Monday.
A total of 12,597 teachers will greet 107,557 students in 735 schools across Cyprus, which will open their doors under new protocols put in place to protect against the spread of coronavirus.
In an interview with CNA published on Saturday, Prodromou said if individuals presented suspicious symptoms, they would be taken to an isolation space in the school, and depending on the result of a test, things would continue as normal, or the school would be temporarily shut down and disinfected.
“Calm and responsibility are required,” Prodromou said.
Upgrades are being made to the internet at schools as well, so they can function online if the need arises, Prodromou added.
He said health and education would go hand-in-hand for the new school year.
The ministry’s goal is to provide quality education this year and to ensure everyone goes to school safely, he said.
“We must follow the health protocols closely,” he said as the pandemic was still ongoing.
Prodromou said that in cooperation with the parents and teachers, they will be able to prove public schools were a safe and hygienic place for children.
Commenting on the situation in classrooms and precautions taken to modify them to protocol standards, Prodromou said the classrooms were ready.
“There were some issues in securing the correcting distancing based on the protocols, as all over Cyprus every room is not the same,” he said. He added that special arrangements had to be made at some schools, but the problems in spacing and modifying the rooms were all sorted.
Schools hope to better the situation by obtaining single desks gradually, he said.
He also said disposable products were given out, and all school buildings have been disinfected. Signage for distancing has also been put in place.
“I would like to once again underline the exceptional work being done by the cleaning staff,” he said.
On the teachers, Prodromou said they had received the protocols and were ready to brief their students about the guidelines on the first day.
He said the testing programme would see 16,000 random samples being taken from teachers and students.
Commenting on special education, Prodromou said children needing special education would also return to school, and more precautions had been taken in those classrooms to help those students.
Staff and children over age 12 will all have to wear face masks in all indoor spaces.
Prodromou said the ministry is following the directives issued by the health ministry.