ATHENS – All students and staff and teachers returning to class when Greece’s schools reopen Jan 10 from a holidays break will be given free self-tests to determine if they are infected by COVID-19 or the Omicron Variant.
The New Democracy government and Education Ministry decided it would be safer for them to be in a controlled environment and tested three times weekly instead of being out on their own and going to cafes and gathering spots.
But only two of the tests will be paid for by the state, dispensed through pharmacies but with no way of identifying who took it or is presenting it to gain admission to the schools.
Vaccinated students and teachers must undergo two self-tests per week, instead of one because even those fully inoculated are being infected by anti-vaxxers and those refusing to take the shots, further spreading the virus.
If an infection is discovered, the entire class will be tested, not just those sitting near someone testing positive although it wasn’t said how someone infected would be in a class if having already presented a negative test.
“Nothing can replace the in-person operation of our schools. It is for the emotional and psychological development of our children; therefore it is important that they operate in their natural space, with their classmates and teachers,” said Education Minister Niki Kerameus, said the state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency (AMNA.)
She defended the decision to reopen schools following the winter breakdespite a dramatic rise in new coronavirus cases, stressing that “children are safer in school than out of it,” the report added.
Masks are also required in class and outside and school trips have been suspended for now, she said, adding the same measures will be in force at universities and vocational schools.
One member of the government’s advisory panel of doctors and scientists predicted that the schools will be a hotbed of infection because of the highly-transmissible if less deadly Omicron.