Author Topic: no way back to school for special needs children in cyprus  (Read 96 times)

huhn

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Coronavirus: conditions for return to school of children with special needs ‘discriminatory’ Lottides says

By Jean Christou

Both the Ombudswoman and the Child Commissioner on Thursday slammed the government’s policy towards children with special needs as discriminatory given the requirements they need to fulfill to return to school

Most schools reopened on Thursday following the lifting of restrictions but the parents of children with special needs, and those who go to special schools, were angered when told to avoid taking the children back to school at this stage, and say it was discriminatory that all children with special needs would need to be tested for Covid-19, among other unacceptable conditions.

Political parties also accused the ministry of a lack of organisation and discrimination towards the children.

Ombudswoman Maria Stylianou-Lottides weighed in later Thursday after receiving a complaint. In her report, she concluded that she needed to issue an intervention to the education ministry, calling the situation discriminatory towards children with special needs.

“Specifically, the announcement of the ministry of education regarding the attendance of children with disabilities during the reopening of schools, shows that students with special needs, under the current conditions to gain access to primary and secondary education, will have to follow different terms and procedures,” the report said.

The terms and conditions and preparation were such that it would mean the children losing two weeks of education. The education ministry announced late on Wednesday the formation of a committee to examine individual cases of children with special needs. The committee, including specialised doctors, is expected to assess whether they should return to school and which measures must be implemented.

The announcement was referring to children in special units at state schools, or children who have serious health and adaptation issues, or who have a school assistant.


The ministry had required “enhanced protective measures” be taken before the children went to school, especially as regards those who are aided by school assistants. The children were also to be tested for Covid-19, which was deemed unfair given that not all children of standard development were required to undergo the testing.

According to Lottides, the complaint filed to her said the procedures as laid out would be impossible to follow, with the result that children with special needs could not start school at the same time as other students. The complainant also pointed out that many children with special needs, due to hypersensitivity and intense sensory issues, cannot tolerate the Covid 19 test or any other laboratory test, especially those who fall into the autism spectrum, who need to be prepared to go through any process, transition or treatment.

“The risk of wasted time is in itself a discriminatory treatment of children,” Lottides said. Furthermore, her report said that if the establishment of a committee was necessary it should have been set up long before the decision and the announcement of the reopening of schools so as to provide the opportunity for timely preparation without the risk of absenteeism.

Less favourable treatment of children with special needs was discriminatory, and imposing additional conditions on them were not justified on the basis of scientific opinion, Lottides said, adding that the conditions being imposed makes early access to classes almost impossible.  "I will agree with the opinion of the complaining parents that children with special needs are considered to be children belonging to vulnerable groups in an arbitrary manner,” she added.

"It is clear that there is discriminatory treatment…  not only because support measures were not taken in time for children with disabilities to be already in school, but also because these children were treated less favourably."

Lottides said her recommendation was that the education ministry’s announcement and the requirements for the attendance of children with special needs “be reconsidered immediately”. The report was submitted to the minister of education.

Earlier in the day, Child Commissioner, Despo Michaelidou had taken the same line. “The announcement essentially requires children with disabilities to undergo complex and time-consuming procedures and examinations, as well as the mandatory laboratory testing for Covid19,” she said.

Michaelidou said the conditions deprive the children of their right to education and on top of that they had only been published a few hours before the opening of schools. The affected children are in a very bad psychological state, since they feel marginalised and unwanted, the commissioner said.

Akel MP Nikos Kettiras brought up the subject during the education committee on Thursday, saying the parents of those children are unable to return to work.

>post edited to change very large font - copied and pasted direct from newspaper article? - KK
« Last Edit: 21 May 2020 09:30PM by KizzyKazaer »

Sunshine

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 >bighugs<

The fact that special needs children are set to be tested for Covid 19 before be allowed to return to school when other children are not being test does sound like discrimination. The problem is I can see some sense to it if the child struggles in social situations or finds rules and instructions hard to follow. Here in the UK there has been a fair bit in the news about how it will be impossible to get five year olds to social distance properly. I am not saying special needs children are like five year olds it is just both groups can be challenging when it comes to Covid 19.

What sort of thing is this referring to? I mean beyond Covid 19 testing?

Quote
The announcement essentially requires children with disabilities to undergo complex and time-consuming procedures and examinations, as well as the mandatory laboratory testing for Covid19,” she said.

huhn

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first thing , the parents have to go with the child for testing, and this is not covered by the health insurance and additionally we have  to get health  certification , problem a lot of  doctors have appointment waiting list more then 1 year.

Sunny Clouds

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So in theory, on paper,  perhaps logical and reasonable, but in reality, for the ordinary people having to make arrangements for disabled children, an impossible or near-impossible barrier?  Or at least, that's how it comes across to me.

Big hugs, Huhn.

>bighugs<
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

huhn

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yes logistically  and financially impossible

Sunshine

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Sounds like the powers that be don't have the where with all to just be honest and say special needs children are not allowed back to school. It is like they want to put the blame on parents and it is cowardly.