Schools open with masks, self tests and books
CORFU. The school bell sounded at Mathraki Primary School after 21 years.
Corfu school pupils went back to school today with negative self test results and recovery and vaccination certificates in their hands. The traditional Holy Blessings took place adhering to Covid measures and with only pupils and teachers present.
Following the Holy Blessings, primary, junior high and high school pupils received their new books and classes begin tomorrow.
According to the Ionian Islands Regional Director of Education Petros Aggelopoulos, the return to school went smoothly and without any problems. "The opening of schools went very smoothly in all the Ionian Islands with very few shortages of teachers and the children all received their books," he told Enimerosi. He added that there were very few negative responses to the Covid measures with two pupils in Lefkada and two teachers in Cephalonia refusing to present self test results.
Containers being used again this year
Nevertheless, teachers' unions say that there are teacher shortages, especially at the vocational high schools. There are also prefab buildings being used yet again this year - according to the primary teachers' union, the problem is mainly in the Central Corfu Municipality. A total of 14 classes are using containers as classrooms, which have been set up in primary schoolyards and even outside high schools.
Central Corfu & Diapontia Islands Mayor Meropi Ydraiou and the Director of Secondary Education Harilaos Alamanos were present at the Holy Blessings ceremony at the General High Schools.
The President of the Secondary Teachers' Union A. Kapetanios told Enimerosi that there are classes with a large number of pupils again this year. Due to lack of space, several schools have classes with the maximum number of pupils allowed - 27 - and are unable to break them up. At Corfu 6th Nursery School there are 31 pupils in one class!
Mr. Aggelopoulos explained that steps will be taken to reduce the numbers, although he himself is not aware of these situations. However, the President of the Primary Teachers' Union A. Koursaris said that even though there may be a small number of pupils in a class, the size of the classrooms is not large enough. "In the 3rd Year of the 6th Primary School 13 pupils will be in a classroom that is 8 sq.m. in size," he said. "The number of pupils does not reflect the reality and it should be determined in relation to the size of classrooms."
There was, however, some good news creating optimism for the future - after being closed for 21 years, the school bell sounded once again at Mathraki Primary School following the appointment of a supply teacher. The sole pupil at the school is 9-year-old Anastasios and his teacher has come from Veria. The small island's happy residents were present for the Holy Blessings ceremony.
"The island's population is very small and is made up mostly of older people," Mathraki community president Yiannis Argyros told Enimerosi. "With the reopening of the school we are sending a message to those who have gone to live elsewhere that they can return and the state should provide more incentives for this to happen." He said that there are no more than 35 permanent residents on the island in winter but this year, for the first time in a long time, there were 100-120 people as many of those living elsewhere came back to the island for their holidays.
The opening of the school in Mathraki follows that of Erikoussa Primary School, which reopened last year and was the only one in the Diapontia Islands.
The first Experimental High School in the Ionian Islands also opened this year in Lefkada, with Mr. Aggelopoulos present at the Holy Blessings ceremony.