Cyprus Mail

Coronavirus: Parents of gymnasium students ready to protest as children stay at home (Updated)


Secondary school parents on Friday said they will demonstrate next week for the return of  gymnasium children back to school.

The group will gather outside the presidential palace at 4.30pm on Monday to demand for the immediate return of their children to school.

“The cases of children who have depression and PTSD have increased and many of them started treatment,” head of the Pancyprian Federation of Parents’ Associations Charalambos Dionysiou told the Cyprus Mail, citing statements by professionals in the field.

Despite the return of the three final grades of high school and primary school children back to class following the relaxation of lockdown measures at the beginning of the month, gymnasiums (three first grades of high school) remained closed. Limassol primary schools closed again last week to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the district.

“We demand our children return to school by the beginning of next week because we have been asking for their return for weeks now,” Dionysiou added and warned parents are ready to take drastic measures, including a mass demonstration.

Based on the health ministry’s decree, gymnasium students are expected to return to school next month although no official date has been set.

To date, there are no recommendations by experts for further relaxation of measures, the health minister said in statements the previous day.

In his response to the parents’ demands, Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou said the recommendations by the health ministry’s advisors were much stricter for schools than the current measures implemented. He added he was willing to reassess the situation if there were new recommendations at an upcoming cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

According to the head of the association, the reasons parents insist on the schools reopening are psychological and educational.

“The situation is tragic, they have been locked up at home for three months. This affects them psychologically but they have also lost touch with their lessons,” Dionysiou said.

Teachers provide online lessons however students do not have the camera turned on at home due to personal data issues. The lack of direct contact makes objective evaluation harder, Dionysiou added.

The return should take place according to the health protocols and students can receive a weekly rapid test. “Those who do not wish to undergo a coronavirus test may remain at home,” he said.

Concerning the risk of infection, Dionysiou explained that since restaurants and cafés have opened he fails to see the reason why schools should remain closed.

“Some people are trying to make us feel guilty that we are asking for our children to go to school but they [officials] should have thought about that before they open the hospitality sector,” the head of the association said.

Meanwhile, the state teachers’ association Oelmek is expected to meet a member of the health ministry’s epidemiological team later on Friday to discuss the issue.



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