Moving to reassure parents, teachers and pupils President Nicos Anastasiades said on Friday that schools will reopen on May 21 under preconditions and provided that the epidemiological situation permits.
His televised statement came amid concerns that the government’s decision to reopen schools at all levels, albeit by rotation, is premature and risky.
Teachers have said they were taken by surprise as they had expected schools to open later and only for older pupils.
And the team of scientists which advises the government on handling the coronavirus was issued a written statement after reports of conflicting remarks from its members on whether the reopening of schools was part of stage two of the lockdown exit road map.
In his statement, the president spoke of ‘intense concern’ among the public, parents, teachers and pupils about the government’s decision to reopen schools.
He therefore referred back to this April 29 televised statement on the relaxation of measures where he had said that phase two would depend on epidemiological indicators and the advice of the scientific team.
He also noted that in announcing that final year secondary school pupils would return on May 11, he had also said that the Education Minister would make statements on the opening of other levels of education.
“Taking into consideration the epidemiological conditions, the recommendations of the scientific team, the time needed to prepare the schools, the teachers, the parents and other stakeholders, the government decided that all levels of education should resume on May 21 when the second phase of the lifting of the restrictive measures starts,” he said.
But he said he wanted to make clear that a necessary precondition to implementing the decision and of the other measures announced remain the epidemiological situation, the final opinions of the scientific advisors and the strict adherence of the hygiene protocols to protect teachers, children and their immediate environment.
The president said that the concerns cited were understandable but unfounded since everything will depend on the epidemiological situation and the opinion of the scientific team.
“The government and I personally will not allow the success achieved through the timely decisions, your sacrifices and the spirit of unity, to be undone.
“I wish to reiterate that our priority was and remains safeguarding the health, life and welfare of the public. The government will never be an accomplice to regressing,” he concluded.