TALLINN - Coronavirus rapid testing in general education and vocational schools detected 3,899 positive test results this week, over three times more than last week.
"We're seeing that the majority of positive rapid test results come from Harju County, which was to be expected because the number of people is largest there, and from Tartu County. However, an increase in the infection rate has also been observed in Parnu and West-Viru counties. We definitely recommend to also continue rapid testing in schools in the coming week -- twice a week in areas with high infection rate and at least once a week in the rest of areas," Minister of Education and Research Liina Kersna said, adding that the omicron strain in particular is spreading widely.
Kersna said it is understandable that some student groups or entire education establishments must temporarily switch to remote learning in order to curb the spread of the virus but these decisions must be well thought out and coordinated with school managers and the Health Board and the period of distance learning should be as short as possible.
"Wherever possible, contact learning must be enabled for students," Kersna recommended.
Altogether 3,321 students and 439 employees tested positive in general education schools this week with the respective numbers being 113 and 26 in vocational schools. 55 percent of the positive cases were detected in Harju County.
Schools where no positive rapid test results were registered numbered 252 last week and 170 this week, among them 160 general education schools and ten vocational schools.
In total, 501 general education schools and 30 vocational schools provided feedback on testing to the Ministry of Education and Research with altogether 140,000 students and 24,000 members of staff having been tested last week -- 128,039 students and 21,967 employees in general education schools and 12,260 students and 2,226 employees in vocational schools. On average, 81 percent of students and 87 percent of employees were tested in general education schools and 65 percent of students and 79 percent of employees in vocational schools.
Similarly to last week, the lion's share of schools conducted the testing of all students and teachers twice a week. Many schools also carried out supplementary testing of student groups that were about to embark on an information visit or groups among which previous testing sessions had detected coronavirus positive students.
Most schools continuously carry out rapid testing in schools. In general education schools, 52 percent of the respondents test their students in school, 20 percent at home and 27 percent both in school and at home. 19 vocational schools are testing their students in school, one school allows testing at home and the remaining ten test both in school and at home.
Five general education schools did not conduct testing this week due to their students learning remotely. 199 general education schools and eight vocational schools have switched at least one of their student groups to learning remotely. In 11 general education schools, all students learned remotely for at least one day this week.