COVID19: School teachers oppose testing twice a week

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Secondary school teachers oppose the Health Ministry’s plan to have unvaccinated teachers and students tested twice a week for COVID-19 when the new academic year starts in September.

Unions OELMEK and OELTEK, representing secondary and technical schoolteachers, told Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas and Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou that having staff and students tested every 72 hours will create operational problems for the schools.

OELMEK president Costas Hadjisavvas told the Cyprus News Agency the issue was put before the two ministers during a meeting on Wednesday.

“The health minister said that they would look into the matter.

“They will be evaluating the epidemiological situation during the first weeks and deciding accordingly.

“Until that date, checks will be held every 72 hours,” said Hadjisavvas.

Hadjisavvas also said the unions had asked for mobile units to be sent to all schools again, as was the case last term.

He said that reassurances were given that teachers and students would not have to go out of their way to get tested.

During the meeting with the ministers, the unions reiterated their opposition to making the COVID jab mandatory for teachers.

OELMEK’s president said that from the position adopted by the health minister during the meeting, it is clear that “for the time being, there does not appear to be any intention for compulsory vaccination.”

Cyprus health authorities have recently rolled out the vaccination campaign to children aged 12 to 15, with more than 6% being vaccinated with the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in the first ten days.

Teenagers aged 16 to 17 were included in the campaign earlier in July, and over 31% have received at least one dose, with 19.3% completing their vaccination.

The new school year starts at the beginning of September.

The unions asked the Education Ministry to speed up installing single person desks at all secondary schools by the end of the month.

Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou had committed to installing single-person desks in all schools for social distancing by the end of September.

OELMEK and OELTEK also asked for updated health protocols with clear cut instructions to school management on dealing with coronavirus cases and other pandemic issues.

Hadjisavvas argued that schools have not yet been given guidelines on how to act when a vaccinated person comes into contact with a positive case, what exactly constitutes a close contact, and the contact tracing process.