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Coronavirus: Teachers’ unions oppose compulsory jabs

Schools 49
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Mobile rapid test units will once again make the rounds when secondary schools reopen in September, the health ministry has assured teachers’ unions, the Cyprus News Agency reported on Thursday.

The assurance was given at meeting of the leadership of Oelmek and Oltek, the unions representing secondary and technical schoolteachers, with the health and the education ministers on Wednesday where teachers also reiterated their opposition to making the Covid jab mandatory.

Oelmek president Costas Hadjissavas told CNA that from the position adopted by the health minister, “for the time being there does not appear to be any intention for compulsory vaccination.”

The meeting came only a few weeks from the start of the new academic year and with coronavirus cases remaining stubbornly high. Authorities have stepped up a vaccination campaign, recently opening up the platform to youngsters aged 12 and over in a drive to contain community spread.

Hadjisavvas said that the unions had asked that the mobile units be sent to the schools again, as was the case last year, and were assured that this would be the case.

They also asked that the scientific advisory committee review whether rapid tests be taken once a week and not every 72 hours as is currently required, as this creates operational problems for the schools.

“The health minister said that they will examine this possibility. They will see what the epidemiological situation is in the first weeks and decide accordingly. Until that date, checks will be held every 72 hours,” he said.

Oelmek also reiterated its demand that single person desks be in place at all lower and higher secondary schools in all districts by August 31. They were told there was potentially an issue in the Limassol district where the process may be completed in September.

The unions also asked for updated health protocols with clear cut instructions to school management on how to deal with a coronavirus case and other pandemic issues.

Teachers set out several questions, including distancing in classrooms, who should check third parties going to schools, what action should be taken by a vaccinated person who comes into contact with a positive case, what exactly constitutes a close contact, and the contact tracing process.

They also asked for a special phone number for direct contact between school management and officials responsible for coronavirus issues, whether at the health or education ministry, to give immediate replies on how to handle an issue that may not be in the protocols.

Oltek president Panayiotis Lyssandrou said that another meeting will be held towards the end of the month to discuss the start of the new year based on the final suggestions of the scientific advisors and the epidemiological situation on the island.

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