Tallinn Education Department sends model crisis plan to schools

First day of school ceremony at an Estonian school.
First day of school ceremony at an Estonian school. Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

On Wednesday, the Tallinn Education Department sent a model crisis plan to educational institutions, which helps staff to think through activities and risks in order to be ready for the beginning of the school year and a possible second wave of the coronavirus.

The models and instruction materials of the crisis plan were created under the leadership of the Education Doard and with the help of educational leaders and are in accordance with the city's general crisis plan, the completion of which is coordinated by the city's crisis team.

The crisis plan received its final touches in a discussion between heads of schools and kindergartens at an information meeting held on August 25, where advice for preparing for the school year was given by Tallinn Deputy Mayor Vadim Belobrovtsev, head of Tallinn Education Doard Andres Pajula and the city's crisis team chief Peeter Moora, as well as representatives of the Education and Youth Authority (HARNO) and the Health Board (Terviseamet).

According to Deputy Mayor Vadim Belobrovtsev, the most important thing is that school can start September 1 as usual and the children would be allowed back to school.

He said: "When following all the recommendations for preventing the virus, it is unlikely that children will get or transmit the coronavirus, but the virus has not disappeared and we must be prepared to adapt to it.

"The city has prepared an action plan for the implementation of three possible scenarios - green, yellow and red. Based on this, Tallinn schools and kindergartens are also preparing crisis plans by the beginning of the school year, which thoroughly describe the code of conduct of the head of school, staff as well as children and students according to the risk of spreading the virus. The green scenario is currently in place and I hope it can continue."

Belobrovtsev added that Tallinn's position, similarly to the whole country, is that the general distance learning that took place in the spring will not be implemented in the new academic year and schools will be kept open for as long as possible. All kindergartens will remain open as well.

Possible infections are responded to on a case-by-case basis and following the recommendations of the Health Board, the Ministry of Education and Research and the Tallinn Education Department.

Tallinn's approach differs from the national guidelines in that the condition for the closure decision is not that 10 percent of people become ill, which in some Tallinn schools would mean more than 100 people infected -- accumulation of such a large number of virus carriers will certainly not be allowed.

According to all parties, the main thing is to protect at-risk people and to keep people with symptoms away from the territory of the school or kindergarten. Contactless thermometers have been successfully used in kindergartens for this purpose since spring and the city now plans to support the purchase of thermal cameras in schools as well. The city is also providing educational institutions with personal protective equipment.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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