Mixed system of education may be needed, Digital Deputy Minister tells CNA ahead of new school year

The new school year which begins on September 7, 2020, may involve a mixed system of physical presence of pupils in the classroom and a remote learning, Digital Deputy Minister Kyriacos Kokkinos has said.

Kokkinos told CNA that the Deputy Ministry of Research, Innovation and Digital Strategy is preparing intensively and is ready even for full remote education if it is needed, based on the epidemiological data, adding that in case minor problems arise they will be solved along the way and without much difficulty.

He also said that the goal set by the Deputy Ministry is to be able by the beginning of the school year on September 7, to fully operate if the online education becomes the only choice. He noted however that if there are any minor problems “we will solve them on the way”.

Asked by CNA about the personal data issues, Kokkinos said there were two key questions: whether the teacher will be able to see the pupils at home “and the answer is no,” and whether the pupils would have access to the blackboard, their fellow pupils, and the teacher or just have audio connection and not visual. “The answer to this is that they must have access to the blackboard at least – it is desirable to have access to the blackboard and the teacher – but not to other pupils,” he said and added that these issues should be resolved by the Personal Data Commissioner and the Ministry of Education.

“What we must have in place is readiness for full remote education and no physical presence of students in classrooms,” he said and pointed out that this is the worst scenario, and not the desirable one, but when we make our preparations, we should be ready for it.

On Monday, Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou said that no final decisions have been made on the operation of the schools at the beginning of the new school year due to the pandemic. However, he assured that the Government`s goal is the uninterrupted provision of education and, at the same time, the protection of public health.

Therefore, health protocols will be updated and the advice of epidemiologists and the special scientific team acquired by the Ministry of Education within days will be fully followed.

Prodromou made it clear that “our aim and what we are trying to do is to ensure the attendance with physical presence to the greatest extent possible and we hope that we will be able to achieve this entirely in primary education and of course to a large extent we will pursue it in the secondary education”.

Source: Cyprus News Agency