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Greece’s High Schools Open for Seniors, Not All Return

ATHENS – Needing to get ready for university entrance exams, high school seniors in Greece were allowed to return to school May 11 with a further lifting of a lockdown aimed at preventing the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus but some stayed away.

Some students told Kathimerini they won't risk going to school unless it's absolutely necessary after the New Democracy government was criticized by the major opposition Radical Left SYRIZA for reopening the schools.

Students who said they don't want to go back to classrooms said they will prepare at home for the university tests as attendance traditionally wanes anyway in May as the seniors try to bone up for the exams.

They are allowed a certain number of absences during the school year and may save them up for the spring so they don't get down marked down for not being in school and can turn to the exam preparations.

All secondary school pupils will be allowed to return on May 18 with uncertainty over how many will come back so late in the school year and with fear of the virus still in the air for now. 

Mikelino Maragoudakis, a pupil at the Anavryta Model Lyceum, told the newspaper he did not feel comfortable resuming his studies in a classroom.

“Sitting the university entrance exams is my life goal, so it’s not ideal for me to be worried about possibly becoming ill,” he said, adding that he planned to go to school “only if absolutely necessary to pick up (teaching) material.” 

The Education Ministry earlier sent comprehensive guidelines to  schools, detailing all the necessary hygiene measures and other for teachers, parents and students trying to assure them it would be safe, with strict hygiene protocols in place.

Students will be required to stay at least 1.5 meters (4.92 feet) apart and with desks pushed further apart and a staggered system of teaching to allow for fewer students in classroms and no extra teachers.

Pupils are being told not to pass notes or papers or stationary to each other, to use covers for computer keyboards and with schools required to disinfect chairs when students use them.

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