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Coronavirus: minister says teachers are obliged to get tested

Photo: CNA

Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou on Friday urged parents to encourage their final year children retuning back to school on Monday to get tested for coronavirus.

Though the testing of pupils is on a voluntary basis, teachers are obliged to get tested, just as all others slated to return to their workplaces on Monday, the minister said.

Primary school and final year lyceum pupils will return to school on Monday as part of the gradual lifting of restrictions against the spread of coronavirus.

Prodromou, through state broadcaster CyBC on Friday, issued a call on final year pupils to go get tested, if they wished to, before returning to school.

On Thursday, secondary education teachers’ union Oelmek called on the education ministry to issue a decree for the obligatory testing also of final years pupils. The union argued that the ministry’s decision to allow the return of these pupils without a mandatory rapid test was “unacceptable, incomprehensible and dangerous to public health.”

Teenagers between 16 and 18 years old, transmit the virus with the same frequency as adults, the union said, citing the World Health Organisation, adding that not making testing mandatory for pupils could create problems to the final exams period “as the possibility of individual pupils and / or the whole class being in self-isolation increases, because the carriers of the virus will not be identified in time.”

“There is no issue to discuss,” Prodromou told CyBC on Friday recalling that final year pupils are in their majority minors. “Everyone knows from the previous school year when we had carried out around 16,000 PCR tests, the parents’ consent was needed, and it was on a voluntary basis.”

The minister explained testing was mandatory, however, for the teachers. “A decree is currently in force for the reactivation of various sectors and concerns the return of around 70,000 to 80,000 people to their workplaces, including 6,000 to 7,000 teachers,” he said.

Replying to a question on what will happen in the case of teachers refusing to get tested, he said, the decree was clear. “Then, they cannot be in school,” he said.

He added that only a very small number of teachers had expressed objection to getting tested. Prodromou said that, following contacts with teachers during his recent visits to several schools, it emerged that the reality had nothing to do “with all these alleged problems raised daily.” The teaching world is doing what they can to help their pupils cope, most times beyond and above their duty, he said.

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