Schools finally opened after the summer on Monday following a delay of one week and with the introduction of new measures, under which students at secondary schools are required to wear masks and all students must keep to social distancing due to the coronavirus.
President Nicos Anastasiades wished students, parents and teachers a safe school year ahead.
In a post on his personal twitter account, he wrote: “Happy school year, to students, teachers and parents! We return safely, carefully and following measures and instructions.”
Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou said the new school year begins under the stigma of the epidemic.
“Thanks to the proper management and responsible attitude of society, we have managed to deal with it properly,” he said.
“We can have full attendance, with the physical presence of students at school. We must therefore safeguard it. We will diligently apply the rules of individual protection and collective health insurance, as advised by the health authorities.”
According to Prodromou, the aim of the ministry is to modernise the educational system, and to integrate digital technology, upgrading technological equipment at all schools.
Commenting on instances of non-adherence to social distancing measures, Prodromou said based on protocols the students should immediately go to their classrooms after arriving at school.
Students were seen, however, to be congregating and not adhering to social-distancing measures on the first day and Prodromou said the ministry is working on finding a solution.
Many final-year students of lyceums also took part in the tradition of lighting flares and firecrackers on the first day to mark their last year of school even though they were told not as it usually involves camping out at schools.
One student, 17, was arrested by police in Limassol for possession of flares and firecrackers. He was found near the Ayia Fyla Lyceum with 30 fireworks.
At Archangelos gymnasium all went smoothly in the morning, with pupils being separated into three rows who had to enter through three different entrances. Nearly all students were inside by 7.30am to receive instructions.
Pupils did not all keep to social distancing, with several of them hugging each other after the long summer break, but they appeared calm and ready to accept the new measures.
“All is fine, as far as we can say,” a group of students commented. “It is early, it is just the first day, we will see.
“We are okay with wearing masks inside and the decision to start school now, it is time to start lessons again.”
“What can I say, school hasn’t started yet,” a father said. “But they seem organised the way they made decisions and they are leading the children to the classrooms.”
“We will see in the next few days. There are not many choices. For sure it is difficult to wear masks all the time but it was necessary,” a mother added.
One Larnaca primary school teacher, Stella Georgiou, told the Cyprus Mail that things operated smoothly. She said they welcomed the first graders as planned and none of the teachers had an issue with wearing the masks.
“Social distancing was not followed completely, but in general everything went alright at school,” she said.
The opening of schools was delayed for a week to September 14 instead of September 7 due to a heatwave gripping the island.
Students in secondary school are required to wear face masks in all indoor spaces of the school. Children of all ages must wear them on the bus.
A total of 331 primary schools with 51,540 pupils started operating, as well as 273 nurseries with a total of 11,705 children and nine special education schools with 484 students.
A total of 114 secondary schools are operating, of which 64 are gymnasiums, 38 lyceums, seven a combination of both and five evening secondary schools.
A total of 39,980 high school pupils are registered, of which 22,991 will go to gymnasiums and 16,989 to lyceums.
Technical schools have 4,640 registered students.