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2 masks, 1 flask: Greece’s half-measures for students’ protection

One thing is certain from the Education Minister’s announcements about the opening of schools: the complete lack of serious government planning to protect the health of students and teachers. Wish list and half-measures

The previous certainty that the schools will open on September 7 has been replaced by the wiser and … clearer message: they may open on Sept 7, but maybe on Sept 14! Epidemiologists do not hide their anxiety about the course of the coronavirus in Greece, saying that they do not have the epidemiological data from the return of the holidaymakers  and they need time for safe decisions. Education Minister Niki Kerameos announced on Monday, that the final decision about the schools opening will be announced on Sept 1.

She promised that cleaning in the schools will be intensified but she did not reveal how. With what staff and what resources?

She announced that a generous donor will give one water flask to each pupil in the primary education schools.

Furthermore, the ministry will provide pupils and teachers with cotton face masks free of charge: Two masks for each pupil for the whole school year!

The overcrowding of dozens of students in the classrooms, where it is practically impossible to maintain the necessary safety distance of 1.5 meters causes great concern among the teaching community.

Teacher’s unions demand smaller classes but the minister claimed that the average number the average number of students per class across the country is 17.

The reality is that 3/4 of the country’s students population is stacked in small classrooms of 20-29 children, notes daily efsyn. The newspaper adds that Minister Kerameos has applied her own statistics, put in one bag a school on a remote island like Ai Stratis with 22 students and the hundreds of students at a school in Kypseli district of Athens and ended with an average of 17.

Ok, in some really remote islands a school may have only 5 children. A month or so ago, the ministry has even increased -instead of decreasing – the number of students in classes to 25-27 for the upcoming school year.

At the same time, the minister announced that in case of a coronavirus infection, only the specific classroom will shut down and not the whole school.

“The minimum that the government has to do, even now, is to reconsider its very deficient plan to open schools and to take seriously the concerns of scientists and society,” efsyn underlines.

Kerameos half-measures triggered an outrage on social media with many ironic comments, like this one:

“With two cotton masks and one flask, that’s how we’ll f**k coronavirus.”

Teachers unions held a protest rally in downtown Athens on Tuesday morning. Did anyone listen? Hardly.

Meanwhile, government spokesman Stelios Petsas announce don Tuesday, that the authorities are preparing sanctions for parents whose child does not wear a mask at school.

“If a student does not wear a mask, we will talk about the parent’s irresponsibility, he can not endanger the others. The child should not be punished for the parent’s irresponsibility”, Petsas reportedly said added that any sanctions will be announced in the coming days.

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