Ministry: Schools must be prepared to continue distance learning in autumn

Classroom. Source: Juhan Hepner/ERR

The Ministry of Education and Research is not currently preparing for a possible second outbreak of the coronavirus, but schools must be ready to organize distance learning in the autumn.

Even though a second wave could be forthcoming in the autumn, the ministry is not making preparations. Kristi Vinter-Nemvalts, Deputy Chancellor at the Ministry of Education, told ERR that the ministry is cuurently concerned with the ending of the academic year and exiting the crisis.

"I cannot talk about detailed scenarios and I don't think it would be reasonable. We have quite different concerns right now," Vinter-Nemvalts said. "We are focused on the end of the academic year, but we are dealing with what might happen in autumn with the worst case scenario. Right now it is too early to talk about it, we want to think it through together with schools."

"There should be preparedness to return to distance learning at some point. If this black scenario were to materialize in autumn, schools should be prepared to continue with distance learning on a much higher level of quality," she added.

"I certainly don't think that distance learning will become a normality. If I said that after autumn comes spring and we're in the same situation, then autumn will come and we're in the same situation again, I would speculate a lot. Let's wait for autumn and see what happens."

Regarding the organization of schoolwork while overcoming future coronavirus waves, the ministry has hung all hopes on a vaccine under development. However, there are more and more parents who are against vaccination. Will vaccinating children be a condition for returning to contact learning? "Right now I cannot answer that question. The thoughts and analyzes of medical experts are necessary on this subject. These are probably next discussions that should happen before the vaccines comes," deputy chancellor said.

Vinter-Nemvalts said that as the emergency situation together with distance learning began suddenly, differences in digital competence became pronounced. "Some schools got the ball rolling during the first week, some took longer," she said.

"There are examples of schools where distance learning has been limited to teachers sending e-mails with exercises and deadlines, the student sends back answers and will receive some feedback if they're lucky. This kind of distance learning is not really efficient," Vinter-Nemvalts said.


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Editor: Anders Nõmm

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