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Cyprus

Coronavirus: Parents reverse decision to keep kids out of lessons

schools2
Photo: Christos Theodorides

Parents revoked a decision to keep their children from school for one teaching period on Monday to protest the new measures saying they have submitted their suggestions to the education ministry.

The decision to abstain from school was taken by the Pancyprian confederation of parent associations to protest the new Covid measures that mean children aged six and older have to wear a face mask and undergo a weekly coronavirus test.

However, during an emergency meeting on Sunday evening, parents decided to postpone any actions saying they had submitted their suggestions to Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou who is expected to bring the issue to cabinet on Wednesday.

Earlier on Sunday, Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas said parents must realise that there are only two options: “either to use the protective mask, which according to experts does not cause any problems, or to close the schools”.

The new measures, in force as of Monday, expand the mask mandate and SafePass to children aged six and older.

The SafePass for these children would need either a certificate of recovery from the virus in the past six months or a negative test not older than seven days. Mobile testing units will go once a week to primary schools for this reason, otherwise children can get tested at free sites arranged by the health ministry, as well as authorised private pharmacies and labs.

Parents proposed the use of face masks remain optional and be used only by older children while younger children could have their temperature taken on a daily basis.

“The particularities of each child and age group should be taken into account,” the parents said, and explained that apart from epidemiologists, educators and psychologists should also give their opinion on the measures targeting children.

The confederation said their aim is the smooth operation of primary schools and to ensure children’s rights.

“We consider the above suggestions, reasonable and applicable as we believe that they can contribute to the smooth operation of schools while preserving at the same time and the health of our children,” they said.

Parents also argued that the strict measures do not reflect the number of cases in schools, however experts have said more students test positive outside the targeted testing in schools.

“We believe that the adoption of these strict measures in primary schools is not justified by the number of cases in primary schools and should be reviewed by cabinet,” they said.

According to the health ministry, cases in schools tripled in the last few days.

Head of primary education Marios Stylianides told state radio last week that cases in schools were “much higher” than those announced as part of the daily cases by the health ministry, since many children were tested privately at pharmacies and labs.

On Sunday afternoon, organised parents gathered at the square of Paphos town hall to protest the measures that they said affect their children’s education.

The previous day, parents protesting the government’s new Covid-19 measures involving primary school pupils blocked the Rizoelia roundabout in Larnaca for around 90 minutes. A similar protest also took place in Paphos, outside the district administration, police said.

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