ATHENS - Despite some anxiety that it could lead to further spreading of COVID-19, Greece's New Democracy on Jan. 11 allowed reopening of kindergartens, primary schools and special education during a lockdown.
In the second closing of non-essential businesses since March of 2019 - far more lenient - the Coronavirus hasn't been able to be contained but the government, rolling the dice, took a chance it would be okay for schools.
That came as a vaccination program is slowly being rolled out for the elderly, healthcare workers and the most vulnerable - after some 66 politicians made sure they got the first shots from the first batch from Pfizer-BioNTech.
The quasi-lockdown began Nov. 7 and was due to end Dec. 7, then Jan. 7, then Jan. 11 but has been pushed back again to at least Jan. 18, depending on what the epidemiological data shows.
Masks must be worn in the schools, although not mandatory for kindergarten students, including outdoors, while schools are required to have enough ventilation to keep the air flowing - during the winter.
There will also be a staggered scheme for drop-off and pickup of students, said Kathimerini, as another safety measure aimed at preventing too many people from gathering, a day after warm weather showed crowds outside elsewhere.
High school students resumed classes Jan. 8 online with remote teaching, a technique the New Democracy government set in place despite criticism from the major rival SYRIZA it's not effective for that age group.
Kindergartens, primary schools and special education schools reopened Mobile units of the National Organization for Public Health (EODY) will be conducting random coronavirus testing at schools, the report said, and Education Minister Niki Kerameus and her deputy Zeta Makri visited primary schools in the Athens suburbs of Metamorfosi and Nea Chalkidona.
"We are here to protect public health and ensure the smooth continuation of the educational process as much as possible," Kerameus said. "Today is the first day of the reopening of kindergartens and primary schools and the joy of the children is very great. Ours as well," she stressed.
The minister noted that the schools are reopening, under the guidance and suggestions of experts, with additional protection measures, such as free Covid tests for teachers and different times of arrivals and departure of the children.
"The children have returned to their classrooms, with their classmates, their teachers," she added.