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Coronavirus: Parents told to follow protocols over school closures

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Moving to pre-empt parents’ associations from taking matters into their own hands, the education ministry has reiterated that health protocols for the coronavirus do not provide for specific schools to close, irrespective of the number of pupils or staff who may have tested positive.

Monday’s written announcement follows an outbreak at Mitsis commercial school in Lemythou which has prompted parents to keep their children home. The ministry had faced similar problems last month after an outbreak in Polis Chryschous.

Both the parents’ and the pupils’ association in Lemythou said on Sunday that the school, which caters for pupils from a number of mountain communities, would close for a fortnight and have demanded that classes be taught online.

The school has about 140 pupils. According to reports, about 20 have tested positive for coronavirus. A large number of the school community is understood to be self-isolating.

But the health ministry said that there are specific provisions in the health protocol both for people who test positive and for those who are considered contacts on confirmed cases. They are contacted by the health services and the school management and must follow instructions given. No other person can give instructions, it stressed.

The education ministry also noted that it has set up a Covid-19 team which works with the health ministry’s contact team and the school management whereas the health protocols do not provide for schools suspending operation.

“Whether it is the school in Lemythou or any other school where a significant number of pupils and/or teachers must remain at home, the health protocol is implemented and pupils and teachers must follow the school management’s instructions,” it said.

Pupils who have not been notified by the school or the contact team to remain at home must attend school or alternatively they will be marked an absent, the announcement added.

The ministry appealed for the cooperation of all and said that while it understood the concern during a pandemic, hasty and impulsive action should be avoided.

“It is the ministry, through the school management, in close cooperation with the health ministry, which decides on the operation of the schools. Parents and guardians, as well as the wider public are urged not to pay attention to announcements issued by anyone other than the competent authority,” it added.

 

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