After staying away from work for six weeks, primary and preschool teachers returned to their classrooms yesterday as ministry officials weighed up options on how to make up for lost time caused by their strike action. Education Ministry sources said that among the options being examined is extending the teaching day by an hour or limiting school trips in the year. More than 39,000 teaching hours are estimated to have been lost as a result of the strike action that began days after the start of the school year. «The Education Ministry is interested in essentially making up for lost teaching hours,» said Education Minister Marietta Giannakou. Decisions on the issue are expected today after the Primary School Teachers’ Federation (DOE) submits its proposals to the ministry. However, more hours will be lost in coming weeks as the teachers have not abandoned their quest to obtain a 45 percent pay hike in starting salaries. DOE has called two new 24-hour strikes, for Friday and November 9, and are likely to announce more protest action as the government refuses to give in to their demands. The Federation of Secondary School Teachers (OLME) will also submit today its ideas on filling in for lost class time even though its members only went on strike for 10 days. Lost teaching hours have added up in the secondary sector due to students staging sit-in protests at more than 1,000 schools across the country. Students have locked down school grounds demanding that the ministry drop a minimum grade requirement for university entry. Education Ministry sources said that the government is likely to enforce a law that extends the teaching year by one day for every school day lost because of the student protest action.