On Monday afternoon, the educational organizations and the organized parents were informed about the implementation of the “test to stay” in schools, by the Ministers of Health and Education, Culture, Sports and Youth, Michalis Hadjipandella and Prodromos Prodromou, respectively. Mr. Hadjipandella stated that he will inform tomorrow, Tuesday, when the specific measure will be implemented, which will not be suspended, as it is a decision of the Council of Ministers, as he said.
The Minister of Education said that they listened to the views, thoughts but also the reservations of the educational organizations and added that it will be examined how the measure will work with the sole aim of a number of children “not to be deprived of education, if it proves to have a negative diagnostic test”.
The educational organizations expressed reservations and concerns about the decision of the Council of Ministers and asked a lot of questions, with OELMEK asking the Ministers to “have second thoughts” and raise the issue for evaluation at the Central Board of the organization. The issue will be raised by POED in its collective bodies and by OLTEK in the Central Board of Directors.
The organized parents also expressed their concerns and received answers which they will convey to their members.
The meeting, which lasted more than 2.5 hours and was held at the Ministry of Education, was attended by the head of the Advisory Scientific Committee of the Ministry of Health Konstantinos Tsiotis, the Coordinator of the Population Control Program of the Ministry of Health Karolina Stylianou, the educational organizations OLTEK and the organized parents of Primary and Secondary Education. On behalf of the Ministry of Education, the Director of Primary Education Marios Stylianidis, the Director of Secondary General Education Kyprianos Louis and the Director of Secondary Technical and Vocational Education and Training Elias Markatzis participated.
In statements after the meeting, the Minister of Education Prodromos Prodromou said that the purpose of the meeting was to inform the Ministry of Health how the decision of the “test to stay” in schools will be implemented.
He emphasized that the they can go to school as long as they continue to have a negative result.
He noted that the details will be handled by the Ministry of Health, since the issue is sanitary.
From our side, said the Minister, we listened to the views, thoughts and reservations of educational organizations.
“We emphasize that this is a measure that we will take now for a specific period of time. “We will see how it works and of course our sole goal is for a number of children – it is not a large number, but it is worth it – not to be deprived of education, as long as it turns out that they have a negative diagnostic test”, he added.
The rest, continued Mr. Prodromou, will be clarified by the Ministry of Health.
“We as the Ministry of Education are always in line with the Ministry of Health, but also with the recommendations of the special advisors, on health safety issues and we have a common goal to keep the schools open, but safe,” he added.
For his part, the Minister of Health, Michalis Hadjipandela, said that he would inform tomorrow, Tuesday, when the specific measure will be implemented, which will not be suspended, as it is a decision of the Council of Ministers.
He also stated that there will be mobile units from the Ministry of Health in all schools, while noting that the measure will be optional.
The head of the Advisory Scientific Committee of the Ministry of Health, Konstantinos Tsioutis, said that during the meeting many issues were raised, opinions were submitted and many questions and concerns were resolved.
“The philosophy of this approach has been explained, which philosophy is essentially what we have been saying for a long time, that we have to adapt to reality two years after the pandemic started,” he said.
The reality, he added, “is that the transmission continues and so we must do what we can, use as many weapons as we can, to stay safe and to keep our spaces, our society as open as possible, functionally, in a safe frames “.
Mr. Tsioutis stated that “in the coming days we will continue to work to see how this approach can be implemented in schools.” He expressed confidence that in cooperation with all those involved, the measure will be able to work to keep schools open and in a safe environment.
Asked when the measure will work, he said “I do not know exactly, it does not depend on me. “There are many issues and factors that need to be taken into account and precisely because it is a fairly new measure, we have seen it implemented in other countries, what we need to ensure is that once it starts it can remain in operation.”
Asked to comment on the concerns of teachers, he noted that studies and in practice have shown that these tests help to identify in time someone who is positive, who will be isolated and therefore will not have time to transmit.
“Exactly we have already seen it work in Cyprus. It has been applied for more than a year in nursing homes with frequent tests and has helped a lot in identifying the positive ones in time and isolating them. “So it is not a new approach,” he said.
We know, he continued, that daily tests help especially in areas of increased risk, in areas with various activities and in closed areas that are specific to groups and populations.
“Will this approach work? “Certainly, after daily tests, you will find new cases”, he noted.
In this, Mr. Tsioutis added, “we must separate the fact that the more tests you do, the more you will find. “It does not mean an increase, it means that there is a timely identification, isolation-removal of those who are positive, and you essentially cut the transmission chain”.
The President of OELMEK, Costas Hadjisavvas, said that the position of the organization is “operation of schools with the physical presence of students, teachers, safety and health, without the slightest discount on health issues.”
He said that OELMEK expressed “reservations and concerns” about the decision of the Council of Ministers and asked a lot of questions, submitting its views, while asking the Ministers “to have second thoughts on this issue, because what appears is the abolition of the protocol. within the school units in relation to the protocols in force outside the school units regarding the definition of close contact “.
“What we are seeing right now is the heterogeneity in the application of health protocols inside the school premises in relation to what is applied outside the school units,” he added.
Mr. Hadjisavvas said that “there are really serious concerns” and added that the issue will be evaluated at the Central Board of OELMEK next Thursday.
He stated that “above all is the protection of safety and health of anyone working inside the school”, while regarding the possibility of taking strike measures, the President of OELMEK said that “what is important above all is to enter the logic and any decision to be taken with caution so that we do not get to the point of discussing measures “.
He further added that “there are teachers and students inside the schools 'with' very serious health problems 'and' there is a serious risk 'and added that' there could be an increase in the spread of the virus and endanger the health of students and teachers and “Expansion of families, especially those who face very serious health problems.”
Asked whether the protocol is violated in case the test is negative, Mr. Hadjisavvas said that “the definition of close contact regarding those who are not vaccinated, whether they are students or not, clearly states that they remain in compulsory self-restraint.”
“Why do children who are in close contact and are unvaccinated, come to school, move around uncontrollably, endanger the health of their classmates and teachers and anyone who works at school but when they leave school to be put “in self-restraint, they can not circulate either in cafes, or in stadiums, or anywhere else,” he wondered.
Mr. Hadjisavvas also said that OELMEK is interested in the application of the protocol as it “applies outside the school to be applied inside the schools” and added that “no different definition of close contact for vaccinated people in school can be applied in in relation to what is applied outside the school “.
The President of POEK Myria Vassiliou said that the position of the organization is schools are open but safe and added that POEK submitted concerns as “there were some gray areas, some points that troubled us”.
He said that several of these points have troubled the experts and added that what has been said will be submitted to the collective bodies of the organization and “accordingly we will take a position on this measure.”
He said that tomorrow there will be a meeting of the secretariat of POED and we will see when and if the board will meet.
The President of OLTEK Panagiotis Lysandrou said that the position of the organization is open schools with safety and added that “Mr. Tsioutis said that when a student takes a test in the morning before entering the classroom, in the next hours the chance of transmitting the virus is minimal ».
He stated that the bodies of the organization will be informed and next Thursday they will have a meeting of the Central Board of Directors and added that if necessary they will contact Mr. Tsioutis again in order for the schools to operate safely.
The President of the Pancyprian Confederation of Federations of Parents' Associations of Public Secondary Schools Charalambos Dionysiou said that the position of the organization is for the schools to be open with physical presence of children and teachers and added that they submitted some concerns and questions to the epidemiological team. we will pass it on to the parents we represent “.
“In case the measure is implemented, if in the process the measure shows that it can not continue to be implemented then it will stop”, as is “the assurance we have received from the Minister of Health”, he added.
The President of the Pancyprian Confederation of Federations of Primary School Associations, Frixos Zempylas, said that they asked “some practical questions”, such as how the tests will be performed and by whom, who will have custody of the children during the tests and “how the parents”.
He said that they were informed that the protocol will be voluntary and will be further elaborated by tomorrow and “we will be informed when it will be implemented either on Monday or Thursday”.
Mr. Zembylas said that the members of the Confederation will be informed regarding the measure and “we will return for further information to the Ministry”.