TALLINN – Rain Sannik, emergency chief at the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research, said at a press conference on the COVID-19 situation on Wednesday that the overall aim is to keep educational institutions open for as long as possible this school year.
According to him, distance learning should be the last and most extreme measure and should be kept in mind for the first and second stages of study.
"When the implementation of distance learning is on the agenda, the instances and situations of consideration will focus in particular on ensuring that distance learning is implemented for the shortest period of time possible and that there are as few groups and grades as possible where it is done," he added.
According to him, students in simplified quarantine should not participate in extracurricular activities. "Testing is the way in which it is checked and, in the case of minor students, it takes place with the consent of the parent," he added.
According to Sannik, it is also important to test school staff and the tests are distributed by local governments. "There are plans to send additional tests to local governments in October. Funds have also been allocated to provide the necessary resources for testing students. While in the case of employees the tests were allocated directly to local governments, in the case of students money was transferred to local governments to purchase the tests," Sannik said.
Deputy director general of the Health Board Mari-Anne Harma said that the number of infections in schools has tripled in a week, but the rate of close contacts falling ill per grade is generally less than 5 percent.
"95 percent of those infected in schools had symptoms at the time of testing. So, we are not talking about a latent spread in schools. However, it should be noted that children have milder symptoms," she said.
"It is important that school staff and parents are vaccinated and that infected children are not taken to their grandparents," Harma added.