Cyprus Mail

Coronavirus: not enough substitute teachers to cover absences, union says


Absences as a result of Covid-19 in the past few weeks have put a strain on the substitute teacher system, primary school teachers association (Poed) head Myria Vasiliou said on Thursday.

The worsening epidemiological picture in Cyprus, particularly the increase in cases, has significantly affected primary schools, she said, adding that the problem is more pronounced in some schools in Limassol.

Vasiliou pointed out that great efforts are being made by teachers so that all protocols are strictly observed in all schools.

“Across Cyprus, a small number of primary and nursery schools have closed in line with the epidemiological team’s instructions, with children continuing with distance learning” she said.

A significant number of teachers and students have been required to be absent from school, either due to testing positive for coronavirus or due to being a close contact of a confirmed case, Vasiliou said, which has created huge demand for substitute teachers.

“Only last Monday, on March 8, we had about 100 substitute teacher positions that were not filled” she said.

Poed has repeatedly suggested actions that could be adopted to support school units, which they reiterated in an urgent letter to the Ministry of Education on Wednesday that focused on the growing problem of substitute teachers.

According to Vasiliou, Poed’s suggestions include closing a department if absent teachers cannot be replaced and providing incentives for substitute teachers.

“I think one can easily understand that the constant, albeit justified, lack of teaching staff degrades the quality of education provided and greatly hinders the smooth operation of school units”, she finally said.

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