Schools will be given a lot of autonomy to make decisions about classroom organization next term to work around the coronavirus, representatives of Tallinn City Government said on Tuesday at a meeting.
Initially, all pupils will return to the classroom next week when term starts and it is hoped that distance learning can be avoided in the coming months, as long as the coronavirus can be kept under control in Estonia.
Speaking to ERR, deputy mayor Vadim Belobrovtsev said that by Tuesday evening all school leaders will receive a working document with coronavirus guidelines. He said three scenarios have been developed: green, yellow and red. The city government is awaiting feedback on the plan.
Green means there are a low number of infections and few restrictions or measures must be implemented. The yellow scenario assumes that the number of infected people will start to grow and reach the level of 25 infected people per 100,000 inhabitants. In this case a class could be closed and moved online.
A measure in the red scenario is that some schools will be quarantined, and the last measure of the red scenario is that all schools in Tallinn will be quarantined.
"We certainly hope that we will not get there, that we will stick to the green scenario, but we are, of course, ready for anything," Belobrovtsev said.
He said schools will be given a lot of autonomy next term and when in the green scenario, which Tallinn currently is.
"They will then decide, based on their circumstances and their situation, how they will disperse students," Belobrovtsev said.
However, if the situation worsens, school leaders cannot decide on their own to close a school as the decision must be made with the Health Board and the city government.
One of the topics of the meeting was protective equipment and teacher safety. He said schools will buy the protective equipment and then be reimbursed by the city.
Speaking about teacher safety, he said: "School principals, of course, have to decide how to behave in this situation. I haven't heard anyone retire because of this situation, maybe there have been some cases, but I haven't received this information."
He said the goal is to protect both students and teachers.
"Our task is that all schools are equipped with visors and, of course, we also look at quality, so that these visors are first and foremost high-quality and teachers are as comfortable as possible," said Belobrovtsev.
Editor: Helen Wright