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Final decisions on “Test to Stay” measure on Monday – Battle to keep schools open

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Next Monday, the landscape will be clarified and the final decisions will be taken in relation to the Test to Stay measure, which the government announced last Wednesday and concerns the Primary and Secondary Education students, who are contacts.

The final decisions for this measure will be taken on Monday, January 17, 2022, at 15:00, during a meeting between the Minister of Education, Prodromos Prodromos, the Minister of Health, Michalis Hadjipandelas, the Head of the Epidemiological Team, Konstantinos Tsiopis of educational organizations and parent organizations.

It is reminded that the specific measure that would be implemented, according to the announcements of the government, next Monday, will not be implemented due to the reactions that have arisen from educational organizations and organized parents, while during Monday's meeting the ways of implementation will be examined. that is, whether the measure will be performed by self test or rapid test or otherwise.

We need double composure, says P. Prodromou

According to what the Minister of Education stated before the Parliamentary Committee on Education, which examined the issue of introducing the measure Test to Stay, “double calm is needed”, emphasizing that the Ministry does everything possible and adopts suggestions, if exist, to find solutions that respond to these conditions.

Mr. Prodromou stressed that “there is no sense in reacting”, to note that “unfortunately there was a stir and concern, prejudging what would happen, while the practical application has not been precisely determined”.

Analyzing before the members of the Education Committee how the specific measure was decided, he explained that there was no specific settlement with the decision of the Minister that the tests will be carried out in one way or another.

As noted at this time, the Ministry of Health is making some arrangements and some preparatory work to see how it is possible to implement this proposal.

Replacements in schools

Regarding the replacements in the schools, the competent Minister stated that the replacements in the Primary Schools would be made, not only from the list of appointees, but also from the list of kindergarten teachers, the appointees and the Philologists.

In addition, he said that it was decided to give an opportunity to teachers, who are employed in programs and services of the Ministry, to express interest in employment in schools.

According to the Minister of Education, “last year we had record numbers of replacements in schools, but those numbers were pale in comparison with the numbers we have this year”, noting that from the first day it was obvious that with the replacements we meet only a part of the needs – approximately 2 / 3- and the rest would need to be supplemented with internal arrangements in the schools “.

In addition, he said that teachers know that in case of absence of their colleagues, they will have to make substitutions.

In 10% the absences of teachers

The Minister of Education stated that the absences of teachers from the schools are around 10%, to note that the cases in students are around 6% and the absences for other reasons around 4%.

Specifically, Mr. Prodromou said that the replacements of teachers that had to be made due to absences of cases and contacts COVID-19 were of the order of 5.6%, while a percentage of 3.7% concerned substitutions and replacements of teachers, who were absent for reasons other than of the pandemic.

He went on to say that “with effort and difficulty we have had the result of not leaving a classroom without a teacher”, explaining that this was difficult to achieve, especially in Secondary Education, where the absence of a teacher can affect many departments, but even more than one school.

Regarding the shortages of Secondary Education teachers from last Monday when the schools started, the Minister of Education said that these shortages concerned a percentage of 8%.

More specifically, he said that on Wednesday the percentage rose to 9.6%, while yesterday Thursday a decline was recorded with the percentage being below 9%.

He also noted that the number that needs to be replaced in Secondary Education is higher. Specifically, he mentioned that the needs in the Gymnasiums are over 10%, while in the Lyceums it is around 7%.

“There is a difference in the number of students who are absent, with a larger number in the Lyceums, something that is also related to their preparation for the four-month exams”, he added.

Seven contacts for each positive student, according to V. Silvestro

The head of the tracking team, Valentinos Silvestros, stated that “with the number of cases and contacts we have at the moment, the effort to keep the schools open is very difficult”, while he added that “with the current protocols, a significant number will be missing, both students and teachers from the schools “.

He stressed that “it is not feasible to keep schools open, if half the students will be absent every week”, while referring to the numbers he explained that “each case indicates 7 people in the school as close contacts and if yesterday we had 267 cases in Primary and “Secondary education means that about 3,000 students will stay home for a week, as most students are unvaccinated.”

“So we talk about a few dozen students every week,” he said.

He explained that the Test to Stay measure emerged as an alternative to trying to keep schools in place with a physical presence, and explained that based on epidemiology statistics, testing a child before entering the classroom is less likely to transmit the virus. until it closes.

He added that “there are practical issues and we have to think about what we win and what we lose.”

“If our intention,” he said, “is to keep schools open, this is a measure that is being considered, and I think we can implement it in a pilot phase and maybe not in all schools. At the planning level, we will see how it will be done “.

According to Mr. Sylvester, there are thoughts that this measure will be implemented in the wider community.

Intensity for the measure Test to Stay

Moreover, during the meeting in the Education Committee, tension was caused between the AKEL MP, Andreas Kafkalias and the Minister of Education.

Commenting on the test to stay measure, the AKEL MP noted that the Government announced a measure, which it was not able to explain, saying that as a Government it can not support itself many times.

As he said while they proceeded with the announcement, now they are running to see how it will be implemented.

Responding to the MP, the Minister of Education said that there is a pandemic and they are trying to take measures, while he stressed that no decision was made without their knowledge.

In addition, he stated that the specific measure was proposed by experts.

Pilot implementation of the new measure

Answering a question from a journalist, after the session, about the possibility of a pilot implementation of the new measure, the Minister of Education said that “this possibility has to do with the numbers, the frequency of cases, the number of contacts, the geographical location of schools “.

“This is what the Ministry of Health is studying and it is something I would not like to prejudge or guess,” he said.

Gaps in teachers due to cases or close contacts, say Educational Organizations

The President of OELMEK, Costas Hadjisavvas, complained of “gaps and shortages” to teachers, due to cases or close contacts.

He characteristically said that “they come out taken” and “there are very serious problems in the operation of the schools”.

He expressed frustration with the Test to Stay measure, saying it was a dangerous practice for vulnerable groups. He also wondered how the government makes decisions, without dialogue with those who will be called upon to implement the measure.

He asked for the support of the Parliament, so that the term close contact would return, as it was before, that is, the contacts would remain in isolation.

For her part, the President of POED, Myria Vassiliou, stated that the existing solutions with the replacements “are not the best”, while noting that teachers covered the replacements to a multiple degree.

He called on the Education Committee to deal with the employment status of the replacements, while he expressed dissatisfaction with the Test to Stay measure, because, as he said, “there is no communication channel with the competent and the specialists”.

He described as “contradictory, unjustified and unsubstantiated” the decision for operation of kindergartens, pre-primary and special education, without presenting a rapid test.

Statements by Members

The chairman of the commission, Pavlos Mylonas, said that everyone should be vigilant.

Regarding the Test to Stay measure, he said that efforts are being made to keep case contacts under control, while he expressed the hope that the goal of keeping schools open safely will be achieved.

DISY MP, George Karoulas, said that the goal is to open schools safely. He noted that responsibility is required, not challenge.

In his statements, the AKEL MP, Christos Christofidis, spoke of “sloppiness and unpreparedness” on the part of the Ministry, in relation to the operation of the schools, while he stressed that the rulers announced the Test to Stay measure and then took it back, while they do not know how it will be implemented and they do not know what they decided.

He pointed out that this is a measure with “contradictions”, noting that until noon children are entitled to be in schools and then to be quarantined.

DIPA MP, Alekos Tryfonidis, said that open and safe schools are in demand, while he wondered whether the Test to Stay is reliable and safe.

Source: KYPE

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