TB shuts down school complex

The teachers and pupils of four neighboring schools in the central Athens district of Kypseli have closed down the complex after tests revealed that dozens had contracted tuberculosis. The teachers and pupils of the schools – two primary schools and two secondary schools – decided on the action, together with the parents’ committees, after a resident teacher was diagnosed with TB at the end of last month. Subsequent tests resulted in 10 primary school pupils, 10 secondary school pupils, three teachers and seven administrative staff being transferred to the hospital for further tests. But there are fears about the safety of the Kypseli school complex reopening. A major concern, parents say, is receiving official briefings. «If we do not get the go-ahead from an expert, we cannot send our children back into those classrooms,» Yiota Griva, the head of one of the secondary schools, told Kathimerini. Griva expressed concern about the involvement of the local authorities, claiming that not all pupils and teachers have undergone the required skin test for TB, the Mantoux test. Griva has joined other parents and teachers in signing a petition calling for «an immediate inspection on all members of the school community» and for «full updates» on the progress of tests. Last week pupils at the school complex staged a sit-in, calling for immediate disinfection and renovation of the old building. A resident teacher, Constantina Garane, complains of «small basement classrooms that have not been aired in years.» «It is not surprising illnesses thrive in such an environment,» she said. Pupils across the country, calling for better infrastructure and more funding, staged sit-ins at some 200 schools across the country yesterday. Education Minister Evripidis Stylianidis sought to play down the problem, saying, «Unfortunately school sit-ins happen at this time of year; it has become a trend over the past 15 years.» But he said it was important to «safeguard the future and opportunities of the new generation,» adding that he would be understood by «the majority of parents, students and teachers.»