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Cyprus

Parents upset over situation in schools, teachers’ strike

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File photo (Christos Theodorides)

Parents on Friday expressed their “sadness and displeasure” at the situation leading to teaching union Poed’s decision to stage a one-hour work stoppage, which is set to last from 7.30 and 8.25 on Monday morning.

In a press conference, union head Myria Vassiliou said that the decision was taken to address not only the way the pandemic has been handled at schools, but also other enduring issues faced by nursery and primary schools.

But the news was not met well by the federation of primary school parents’ associations, who have asked for a more inclusive dialogue between everyone involved.

“Anything that creates distance between children and their school units is not satisfactory,” head Frixos Zembylas told the Cyprus News Agency.

Nevertheless, he added, the parents recognise teachers’ right to strike and demand their rights.

“We just want to express our sadness and displeasure about the situation in general,” he said.

“Our sadness at a lack of dialogue towards ensuring the smooth running of schools, and displeasure for the additional loss of school time and the difficulties it will cause parents on Monday morning”.

Zembylas added that parents are seeking a dialogue with all other parties so schools can return to smooth operations, “keeping in mind the potential of an escalation of measures from Poed’s side”.

Vassiliou had announced earlier that the union will review the situation in 15 days and decide on any further measures.

During the press conference, she reiterated that the union has deemed the education ministry’s actions in the past 15 days unsatisfactory in terms of sticking to cabinet decisions on Covid management and the union’s three core demands, which were outlined the previous day by vice-chair Apostolos Skouroupatis.

The first of the union’s demands is for an adequate and swift process for replacing absent teachers to support the smooth running of school units and ensure school safety, as “teacher absences create additional safety issues”.

The second is substantial coronavirus measures for nursery schools and special schools. The vice-chair emphasised that unlike primary and secondary schools, nursery schools have no measures in place to prevent the spread of the virus.

The union’s third demand is for the installation of ventilation systems in classrooms.

Lastly, Vassiliou emphasised that the union also expects more support for school boards, who “have to shoulder a huge burden, with little to no support from the state”.

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