NEWS

Keeping schools open a top priority

Emphasis placed on testing, strict safety protocols so as not to ‘interrupt education process’

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Entering a new phase of Covid management in the new school year which gets under way on September 13, the government is moving away from the logic of shutting down units in favor of increased testing – rapid and molecular – and the monitoring of the contacts of students that get sick.

“The aim is not to interrupt the educational process. This is a policy followed by European countries,” Education Minister Niki Kerameus told Kathimerini.

Moreover, speaking on Wednesday on Skai Radio, Kerameus also stressed that the absolute priority is for all educational structures to function, adding that masks will be mandatory for students in all areas except during physical education classes.

The basic principle is that if an infection or a small number of them are diagnosed in a school unit, that will not mean it will be shut down, as was the case during the last school year.

However, the suspension of a unit will be considered in the event that at least half of its pupils get ill.

Details of the new protocols were announced on Thursday by the committee of experts advising the government on the pandemic.

The minister clarified that the new approach has been dictated by the availability of vaccines and the fact that the majority of parents and grandparents have been inoculated.

At the same time, it also sends a message to society about the positives of vaccination, and serves as an incentive for those who are still hesitant about getting the jab.

Kerameus also said that “about 80% of the teachers have been vaccinated and, if a percentage of 10% who have become ill is added, there remains 10% who have not been vaccinated.”

All students should take a self-test twice a week, which will be provided free of charge by pharmacies. The negative result must be declared in a specific form (school card) or electronically on the electronic platform. Pupils should bring their school card to school every day.

For their part, teachers – permanent and substitute – must, as of September 13, present a vaccination certificate or a certificate of past illness or a certificate proving a negative laboratory test – the latter of which should be performed twice a week at their own expense.