ATHENS – “The school year and nationwide university entry exams will not be lost and we are prepared for any scenario,” stated Education and Religion Affairs Minister Niki Kerameus to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency radio station “Praktoreio 104.9 FM” on Wednesday, regarding the decision to close all schools, universities and private preparatory institutes (frondistiria) throughout the country for the next 14 days, as a measure to counteract the spread of coronavirus.
“The is no need for concern regarding the academic year. We are ready for all scenarios and all plans,” said Kerameus, explaining that the measure announced on Tuesday for the closure of all schools, from daycare to universities, for two weeks “is entirely preventative and aims at the containment of the virus’ spread”.
“At the current moment there is suspension of operation for two weeks. I remind you that the operation of 841 schools had already been suspended before Tuesday’s announcement. We have examined several possibilities, depending on the period of the suspension,” she said.
Kerameus outlined the steps the government expects to take depending on developments, noting that the schools “in the case of a closure of about two to three weeks in total, then the lost ground can be relatively easily and painlessly covered, mostly through adjusting the school timetable and reducing the duration of classes to 35 minutes (from 45 at present). However, if the suspension is prolonged beyond 2-3 weeks, “then there is the possibility of extending the school year, reducing the curriculum and holding the nationwide university entry exams at a later date.”
She also referred to the option of distance learning, which the ministry intends to use in the current situation, since it believes that it is very important for pupils and students to stay in close contact with the education process.
Finally, regarding the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece’s decision to continue offering Holy Communion, Kerameus said: “The Holy Synod issued an announcement urging the faithful not to attend religious events if they belong to vulnerable groups and this plea is in accordance with the State’s directive urging the elderly and the vulnerable groups to stay home. Given that, the way that each person decides to perform religious observances and religious worship and that person’s relationship to each religious community is entirely an issue of each person’s individual conscience. The State and the scientists have analysed the ways in which the virus is transmitted and this includes through saliva. From that point on, there is the matter of individual responsibility”.