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COVID19: Parents campaign to stop schools reopening on 21 May

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Concerned parents fearing the decision to reopen all schools on 21 May is risky and premature have set up an online petition asking the government to reconsider.

Around 8,000 final-year Cyprus students returned to school on Monday under strict health guidelines.

The parent group claims that their kids will be unnecessarily exposed as the school year is nearing the end while refuting some scientists’ claims that children are not as susceptible to the virus, nor can they transmit it easily.

They argue that schools will essentially be reopening only for 13 days for each of the two groups of students as there are only 26 days available till the end of June when the year will officially come to an end.

It is argued the decision has more to do with the government wanting parents to return to work rather than stemming from an actual concern about children’s education.

Authors of the petition refute arguments that children under 10 are not susceptible to the virus by quoting international studies published by worldwide media (Live Science- “Not all children are spared from coronavirus”).

“Therefore, neither primary schools nor kindergartens should re-open. Additionally, the re-opening of schools may put at great risk parents/guardians and grandparents, who in many cases will be called upon to supervise children after school.

The majority of children may not face severe complications from COVID-19 disease, but they may still transmit the virus very easily to their family environment, even without being aware of it,” said the petition

They also argue that older children should not go to school either, as a number of cases and deaths have been recorded in these age groups globally.

Some parents believe that safety measures and protocols proposed by the Ministry of Education are practically unenforceable while some are inadequate.

“How is it possible, for example, for students to maintain distances from their classmates, while adults are still learning?”

The group welcomes the Ministry’s decision to allow teachers and students who belong to vulnerable groups to work from home.

However, they note that teachers and students who do not belong to vulnerable groups but whose family members may be vulnerable, should not be overlooked, suggesting that remote learning be applied for everyone.

The petition calls on the government to withdraw plans for reopening schools on 21 May and instead focus on enhancing infrastructure to promote distance learning.

By Tuesday, more than 3,500 people had signed the petition.