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LIMA (Reuters) - Teachers in Peru started returning to classrooms on Monday after union leaders announced they should suspend a strike that had sparked unrest and dragged on for more than two months in some places.

Teachers at public schools in Peru had sought a sharper salary hike than the government's 12 percent proposal for next year and opposed evaluation-based firings.

But union leader Pedro Castillo announced a temporary end to the strike during the weekend after the government threatened to dismiss teachers who did not return to class.

The strike threatened to force 3.5 million schoolchildren to repeat the academic year and had sunk President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski's approval rating as teachers blocked roads and clashed with police. [nL2N1L303D] [nRTV2T7KNr]

The Education Ministry urged parents to work with teachers to set up schedules to make up for lost time.

The government offered to introduce its proposed salary increase to a minimum of 2,000 soles ($618) per month in November instead of next year and said teachers 55 and older could retire early.

Kuczynski's approval rating dropped 13 percentage points to 19 percent in August, according to a monthly opinion poll by GfK - a new low for the former Wall Street banker in his year-old government.

(Reporting By Mitra Taj; Editing by Bill Trott)

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