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Greece reopens schools as planned on Jan 10; more testing due to record infections

Schools in Greece will reopen as scheduled on Monday, January 10, following the Christmas and New Year’s holidays and despite the fact that daily infections hit one more record, exceeding 50,000 in the past 24 hours. The reopening is to take place with more testing for students and teachers, vaccinated or not, Education Minister Niki Kerameos announced at a Live Briefing on Tuesday evening.

Minister Kerameos said that updated protocols would ensure more testing and tighter checks at schools. “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,” she said.

The new health protocoals for students and teachers include:

a) One extra self test for the first week the schools reopen of classes, Jan 10-15, or three self tests in total in the opening week instead of two. Tests will be provided by pharmacies free of charge.

b) Vaccinated students and teachers must also carry out two self tests in that week, instead of one, because of the high infection rates among those vaccinated as well.

c) In cases of an infection confirmed in the class, the entire classroom will need to be tested, not just those sitting near the infected person.

In the last case, unvaccinated students will be obliged to test every day of the week (five days), with 2 rapid tests and 3 self tests, the latter provided free by pharmacies. The same is expected by unvaccinated teachers, who will also do 2 rapid tests and 3 self tests, the latter free of charge.

Kerameus said that a high rate of infections was expected on Jan. 10, based on experience with the first day of school after summer (Sept. 13). She added that schools provide a safe framework and that “children are safer in school than out of it.”

The obligatory use of masks in and out of classrooms and the suspension of school trips are still in effect, she said, adding that current measures at universities and vocational schools will remain as is.

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