COVID19: Test to stay for schoolteachers

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The Health Ministry’s COVID-19 ‘test to stay’ school testing policy will be extended to include teaching staff at schools in the public and private sectors next Monday, 14 March.

A ministry announcement on Wednesday said the procedure for teachers is the same as the one followed for students reported as close contacts.

According to the announcement, all teachers of elementary and high schools who are reported as close contacts of a confirmed case and need to isolate based on the protocol will have to get tested for seven consecutive days before entering the classroom.

Testing for teachers will be free and carried out at a designated testing unit.

Teachers who decide not to get tested and isolate must take a leave of absence.

Health Ministry spokesperson Konstantinos Athanasiou said testing for seven consecutive days applies only to unvaccinated teachers.

“Vaccinated teachers, just as in the case of vaccinated students, will have to get tested only on the third and fifth day from the date they came in contact with a known case,” Athanasiou told the Financial Mirror.

The cabinet decided to expand the measure to teachers after it had proven helpful in keeping schools open when introduced for students.

The ministry said: “The implementation of the policy in primary and secondary education has allowed thousands of children to attend their classes every day”.

The cabinet had decided to expand the policy to cover teachers in mid-February but was met with a teachers’ pushback.

The Health Ministry held consultations with teacher unions to hear their suggestions on implementing the policy.