Coronavirus protocols at schools should remain the same until the Easter break so as not to disrupt the educational process, secondary school parents said on Friday in response to the announcement that contract tracing protocols would be changing for schools.

On Thursday, the health ministry announced changes to existing protocols which were deemed “unenforceable” by the ministry of education.

Under the changes, an entire class would be considered a close contact if a student in that unit tests positive. Schools will close for in-person teaching for a week if positive cases are identified in three or more classes within a week. And students will be considered close contacts if they were on the same bus as an individual who tests positive.

These measures were called “irrational and excessive” by the confederation of secondary school parents associations, whose written statement argued that constantly opening and closing schools is disruptive for education and detrimental to children’s mental state.

This will “increase the chances of closing a large number of schools, which will endanger the successful end of the school year,” the announcement continues, while it could create inequalities between those taught in person and those taught through distance learning.

In addition, since there are only a few weeks left until the school year ends for Lyceums and technical schools, this could greatly impact Pancyprian examinations, the parents said.

At the same time, gymnasium students who just returned to school after three and a half months are facing even more closures before getting a chance to return to normal stress levels and readjust to school.

Children’s interactions are not limited to those at school, as they interact with their family as well, the announcement said, noting that schools – where rapid tests are performed and health protocols followed – are theoretically safer than other places where young people might gather like malls, cafes and parks.

A great concern shared by parents, is what would happen in the case of a false positive. “Do these cases count towards the total numbers? If not, schools might start closing based on false data,” the announcement finally said.

The protocol changes will be discussed by the health and education ministries in a meeting on Friday afternoon.