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Around 12 million students in France are starting the new school year today without masks - for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and hoping to have a teacher despite the shortage of teachers, AFP reported.

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After a two-month vacation, children from kindergartens and primary schools (6.5 million), junior high school students (3.4 million) and high school students (2.2 million) will meet their friends again, get to know the teachers and the curricula, adds BTA.

And Cyprus lifted mandatory masks in most indoor venues

Unlike the two previous academic years, all teachers and students will start this one without masks, because the situation with COVID-19 is relatively calm. 

Two years ago, masks were mandatory for junior high schools and high schools, and last year - for students from first grade and up.

The new health regulations for the field of education provide for face-to-face training without restrictions on physical activity and communication.

The previous school year was marked by the health crisis.

This year there is a crisis again, but for a different reason - a shortage of teachers and educators.

The phenomenon is not new, but now the situation is even worse - 27,300 are the vacant positions in public and private education, where a total of 850,000 teachers work.

This is not a problem that affects only France - "all European countries are experiencing increasing difficulties with recruitment, which portends a real European recruitment crisis", according to a report by the French Parliament from June this year.

The French Minister of Education Pape Ndiay has been repeating recently: although the conditions are "not optimal", the beginning of the school year will be "comparable to last year", "in front of every class there will be a teacher".

In order to partially reduce the deficit, the state, according to the minister, has hired 3,000 people on fixed-term contracts and they will begin teaching work after a few days of training.

However, he reiterated that over 80 percent of these people have already taught somewhere.

However, according to him, "difficulties in some academic disciplines" are possible. 

Greece plans to ease Covid health protocols in schools

To make the teaching profession more attractive, the government promises that "from the beginning of the academic year 2023/2024, no teacher will start with less than €2,000 monthly net salary" plus bonuses.

The minister assured that there will also be "significant" increases, without, however, specifying when.

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