The preparations for the return of final-year pupils to school on Monday entered the final stretch on Wednesday in what is viewed as the most significant litmus test after the lifting of the lockdown measures that were imposed in March.
The Education Ministry on Wednesday sent comprehensive health instructions drafted by the competent health authorities to schools and all relevant educational authorities.
The 13 chapters of instructions concern the whole framework of activities within the school environment, including necessary hygiene measures and what teachers, parents and students need to know and apply – the observance of personal hygiene rules and keeping appropriate distances, how to handle school equipment, how pupils should exit classrooms at break times etc.
Indicatively, students will be instructed not to exchange stationary. They will also have to use keyboard covers, while seats must be disinfected before someone else sits down.
In addition, the instructions also include psychological support for adolescents and teachers, and exercises on how to deal with various situations that may arise.
Also on Wednesday, high schools were opened so that teachers could start preparing their classrooms in view of senior high pupils’ return on Monday.
At the same time, however, there were protests by trade unionists and a number of school teachers, as well as mayors on several Greek islands, wary that the resumption of classes could lead to a resurgence of the virus. So it came as no surprise that the secondary school teachers’ union (OLME) declared a three-hour work stoppage on Wednesday.
In comments to Skai TV, OLME President Theodoros Tsouchlos bemoaned that teachers and students would be gathered together in a closed space in groups of 30-40. He also complained that teachers were not given adequate instructions and that those on the islands, in particular, face many problems.
Nonetheless, the majority of principals and teachers reportedly attended schools on Wednesday.