Shemaine Bushnell Kyriakides
Sadly or gladly, the new school year has begun. Gone are the carefree, dog days of summer. The time has come for students to begrudgingly wake in the early morning hours, eat their breakfasts in a coma-like state and drag their backpacks to school.
For many of us parents (myself included), we will be dancing in the streets, gleefully looking forward to a time where the word mom or dad isn’t within earshot at all hours of the day. Though other parents will be quite sentimental. Well, to each his own. But for all of us, the concerns are the same – are children safe even with the required safety protocols, are numbers going to rise especially in the unvaccinated and will children be able to maintain a physical presence in schools and avoid going back to online learning? These are just some of the questions facing us today.
We know the rules we have to follow. In addition, we now have the scientific solution, the vaccine that protects us from the virus. --Prodromou
Amid the flurry of new requirements and safety measures, the Minister of Education, Mr. Prodromous Prodromou, announced yesterday that the first day of school went off without a hitch. Most children returned to class, many with masks and extra bottles of hand sanitizers. Older children were also required to provide a safe pass or present a negative test result dated no longer than 72 hours before. A certificate recovery from the coronavirus is also acceptable, as long as it is dated no longer than 6 months after infection. But even with all the new rules in place, children seemed happy to be back with their peers.
To mark the occasion of the first day of school, Mr. Prodromou visited Acropolis High School yesterday morning to talk to students about how they can better protect themselves from the virus by following the protocols. He said, “We know the rules we have to follow. In addition, we now have the scientific solution, the vaccine that protects us from the virus.” Children were also given a booklet on safe schooling.
The challenge now for the pandemic management team is to keep the number of positive cases down. Epidemiologist Dr. Michael Voniatis stressed the observance of safety protocols, though he pointed that an increase in the number of cases was expected.
The Minister of Health, Mr. Michalis Hadjipandelas, stated that if cases rise to an alarming number, they would take immediate and drastic measures, and that online classes would not be ruled out in order to prevent a repeat of last year’s spiraling numbers.
So now, with bated breath, we await the results of this most important milestone that happens each year. The good news is, children seem oblivious to the changes and take it all in stride. They see that the school halls and classrooms, once lined with their artwork and projects are now peppered with signs reminding them of social distancing and bottles of hand sanitizers. It is to them the “new norm”. And it does have its advantages and disadvantages, but that’s another story.