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No plans for mass school closure in event of COVID-19 autumn second wave

Empty classroom. (photo is illustrative)
Empty classroom. (photo is illustrative) Source: Juhan Hepner/ERR

The new school year is set to stick to the traditional September 1 start date. The education ministry also says that an autumn coronavirus second wave would not lead to a repeat of the mass school closures that spring's outbreak brought.

Education ministry chancellor Mart Laidmets says that, even in the event of a major spate of coronavirus in the autumn, there will be no nationwide closure of schools, though localized closures may happen.

"We hope that schools won't have to be closed as a whole. But it is possible that in some counties, or small population centers, in the event of a coronavirus outbreak, some schools will be closed, and teaching would take place remotely," Laidmets said, according to ERR's Russian-language portal.

Schools closed nationally on March 16 due to the pandemic, with teaching taking place online and school entrance exams canceled.

Schoolchildren completed the 2019-2020 academic year learning remotely, meaning when they return to school in September it will be for the first time in nearly six months for many students, though some small group and one-to-one teaching and consultation took place towards the end of the emergency situation, which ended on May 17.

The state exams in maths and the Estonian language were made optional, though in the event, around four fifths of high school leavers took them.

In May, education minister Mailis Reps (Center) said that the start of the new school year might be brought forward to mid-August to make up for this, but no plans for this crystallized, meaning the traditional September 1 first day of school will take place in 2020.

Tallinn city government have reiterated the September 1 start date for schools in the capital.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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