Free walk-in vaccination centres might operate at schools over the next academic year to promote children’s vaccination against coronavirus while all students will be required to present a SafePass, the education ministry announced on Tuesday.
The announcement was made after a teleconference meeting between Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou and scientists from the government’s advisory team, to discuss the health protocol for schools for next year and receive their recommendations.
Mobile rapid testing sites will continue to operate in schools for the free testing of students, but walk-in vaccination centres for the over-12s are also expected to operate this year, the education ministry said.
Dr Constantinos Tsioutis and Zoe-Dorothea Pana, from the health ministry’s scientific team, the president of the Pancyprian Medical Association, Dr Petros Agathangelis Anastasiadis, health ministry official Carolina Stylianou and the permanent secretary of the education ministry Kypros Kyprianou were among those taking part.
Earlier in the day, Prodromou said students will be required to present a SafePass to go to school while unvaccinated university students might require a PCR test.
This means that children must be either vaccinated against the virus, have recovered from the virus in the last six months or have a negative coronavirus test no older than 72 hours.
The requirement also includes teachers according to the education ministry’s circular.
If the epidemiological situation improves, the frequency of the students’ testing might change, Prodromou added.
Universities will probably operate differently, providing for students to carry out a PCR instead of a rapid test.
This is because some lectures will have many students present, making social distancing much harder.
To assist the testing of unvaccinated children, free mobile rapid testing units will be operating at public schools.
But the sites will only be available for students and not teachers, the minister explained.
At the same time, the scenario for mandatory vaccination of educators is not on the table, he told the media.
The minister said that experts pushed for the use of face mask by primary pupils, however it will not be mandatory.
He also said that the ministry will collaborate with the health ministry for the development of educational programmes and presentations to children about the pandemic but also the benefits of vaccines.
Since the pandemic outbreak, 50,000 single desks have been installed in various schools across Cyprus, while more are expected for Limassol district, Prodromou added.
Children as young as 12 can receive an mRNA vaccine in Cyprus given the written consent of both their parents or guardians.
So far, 8.6 per cent of children between 12 and 15 have received their first jab while the respective figure for the 16 to 17 has reached 32 per cent. Just over 22 per cent of the 16 to 17s have received both jabs.
Meanwhile next Wednesday, August 25, the parliamentary committee on education is expected to hold an extraordinary meeting to discuss the procedures for the timely recruitment and placement of school attendants in schools for the needs of children, who fall under special education and training.