Primary schools across the island staged initiatives condemning violence on Monday, in the aftermath of last week’s attacks on schools which included arson and a bombing.

Encouraged by primary school teachers’ association Poed and the federation of primary school parents’ associations, schools across the Republic led pupils in song and peaceful protest condemning acts of violence within their premises and against teachers.

“Schools are not battlegrounds but places of learning, places that educate us and shape our characters,” Poed head Myria Vassiliou told reporters, speaking from the school in Zakaki, Limassol that was partially damaged after an improvised explosive device went off last week.

Doors and windows were smashed in the explosion while some school equipment was damaged, forcing the school to close for two days. The windows of a neighbouring church were also shattered.

Vassiliou called on society and the state to condemn the previous week’s incidents, congratulating teachers for their efforts to follow the relevant protocols and keep schools open.

“We should all have the right to express our opinions and concerns without violent and terrorist acts,” she said, stressing that children deserve to go to school in a safe environment, where they are not subjected to traumatic events.

Renos Koumi, president of the Limassol federation of parents’ associations, applauded everyone involved in repairing the school during the weekend, thanking parents for coming down to help.

“Our message is that acts of violence are reprehensible, and we hope they are never repeated in any school, or anywhere else in our society,” he said.

Last week, protests broke out as stricter measures were introduced in schools to slow the spread of coronavirus, including facemasks and a SafePass requirement for children as young as six.

Parents gathered outside the education ministry’s offices in Nicosia, Limassol and Paphos for several days, with hundreds demanding access to the latest House education committee session earlier in the week.

On Friday, the government decided to place guards at some schools after hours and increase police patrols in the wake of several attacks at schools, including arson and a bombing.