Parent groups warned on Wednesday that they will take dynamic action if the government does not rescind its measures which prevent many pupils from attending school.

Meanwhile, the education ministry has started taking disciplinary measures against teachers refusing to undergo rapid tests.

Last week, primary schools in Limassol were ordered to temporarily close until the end of March following the worsening epidemiological picture in the district, which the ministry said was also reflected in the school rapid testing programme.

The health ministry justified this decision by presenting figures showing that between March 1 and 11, out of 243 positive cases of coronavirus found in primary schools all over Cyprus, 145 came from Limassol.

The same decree specified that instead of March 16, as originally planned, lower secondary schools or gymnasiums would not reopen until the beginning of April.

Both measures sparked negative reactions among parents, with organised groups calling them incomprehensible and unfair towards specific groups of students.

Speaking to Cybc on Wednesday morning, head of the confederation of Limassol primary school parents’ associations Sotiris Christofi said that it would not be viable to close all 73 primary schools in the district just because cases were detected in three or four of them.

Christofi said that parents will request that the health protocols are amended so that only schools that present clusters of positive cases are closed, an argument supported by primary and secondary school teaching unions Poed and Oelmek.

From their end, secondary school parents feel that letting secondary school pupils bear the brunt of the measures while restaurants and bars are allowed to open is unfair, confederation of secondary school parents’ associations head Charalambos Dionysiou said.

“We have not heard of any other country where this happens,” he said, adding that parents have been challenging the decision to extend gymnasium closures since it was announced.

He added, however, that parents were satisfied with a recent meeting with epidemiological team head Constantinos Tsioutis and hinted at some positive news.

At the same time, representatives from Poed and Oelmek addressed the issues at hand, including the subject of disciplinary action taken against primary school teachers refusing to get tested.

The teachers in question were sent home without pay, Poed general secretary Charis Charalambous confirmed, adding that that some feel like they are in danger of being made redundant.

This is punishment enough, he said, “and I don’t understand why the ministry needs to take further steps against them, especially considering this concerns a very small number of people”.

Things would be different if at least fifty per cent of teachers were vaccinated as schools would not have to close, Themis Polyviou of Oelmek said, explaining that all teaching unions would like vaccinations for teachers to become a priority.

If parents’ demands are not met, both Christofi and Dionysiou said that organised groups are considering protesting outside the education ministry, with some threatening their children’s abstention from distance learning.