School teachers on Thursday demanded to be included in the free vaccination programme of the government in light of the reopening of schools on January 8.

“We believe that since we are returning to work and we will be with 200, 300, 400, 500 children and dozens of colleagues all together we must give priority to the vaccination of teachers just like Greece, Germany and other European countries did,” Themis Poliviou the head of state teachers’ union Oelmek told the Cyprus News Agency.

State primary school teachers (Poed) had also sent a letter to the health ministry asking to be included in the vaccination programme as “front-line professionals”.

The health ministry announced on Wednesday the reopening of state and private primary schools and the return of final year lyceum students to school from February 8, while the rest of students will keep following online lessons.

“We are ready to welcome the children. We just have two issues for which we will insist on,” Poliviou added.

Apart from the vaccination, which should be optional according to the union, teachers are demanding frequent rapid tests to be carried out on both the teachers and the students.

The head of the union said they discussed the matter with the health ministry which “agreed that rapid tests will also be done on the children”.

“I don’t know why they excluded children now,” Poliviou said.

The vice president of Poed, Apostolos Skouropatis also told the Cyprus Mail that “it will be beneficial for primary school children to also get tested with the consent of guardians.” No primary school student will be obliged to wear a face mask.

Another matter concerns the teaching material which needs to be adjusted according to the novel conditions with the pandemic that forced teaching to go online for the first time in Cyprus.

“These things are pending which we will see with the return of children in schools,” Polyviou said.

The union is expected to meet with the education ministry to discuss the issues but no official meeting was announced yet.