High school parents on Wednesday lambasted a health ministry announcement that teachers can remove their masks when they see fit to better communicate with pupils, citing discrimination against the teens who are obliged to wear throughout the class.
The confederation of secondary education parents’ associations expressed concerns over the decision, which they said was a unilateral move and discriminated against the around 42,000 high school pupils.
They were referring to the green light by the state medical services for teachers to remove their masks during classes on some occasions “in order to be better understood by the students.” The ruling said that this would be possible provided teachers observe a minimum distance of two meters from the nearest row of students. It added that this adjustment will be an exception for special occasions and will be at the discretion of the teachers themselves. “The general obligation of teachers to use a mask during the educational process indoors remains in force,” the decision said.
Teachers and high school pupils must wear face masks in classrooms.
Parents, however, accused the health ministry of double standards and called on the ministry and the epidemiological committee to “promptly address the problem caused by showing respect also to the pupils who, whenever asked, showed understanding, consistency and a responsible attitude.”
They said that they too had submitted a request for the relaxation of the regulations on the mandatory use of masks but received no reply yet.
Parents said that whenever a pupil needs to say something in class they should also have the right to remove their mask to be better understood by the teachers.
“It should be reminded that spoken activity in secondary education is graded by various forms of assessment and in no case do we want our children to be wronged,” the group said.
Parents also warned that this would also open pandora’s box in schools with justified protests from pupils and parents for this inequality.
“According to our information, we already have the first cases of student disobedience, a fact that worries us greatly,” they said. “We are very afraid that the individual incidents today will increase in the coming days, causing a lot of problems and putting at risk the smooth operation of schools and the health of children and teachers,” the parents said.
Touring Paphos schools on Wednesday, Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou said the response by the health ministry to the teachers’ request would be addressed in such a way to avoid exaggerations that would cause upset.
He added that the use of masks remains the basic mode of protection but on the other hand “we must allow teachers under certain circumstances to be able to catch their breath.”
The minister also pointed out that relaxations had previously been provided for specific cases of speech therapy and cases where eye contact was necessary for reading the lips. He also said that a face shield could be used when lip-reading was necessary.