Ministry: Infection rate over coming days decisive for Tallinn schools

Maris Jesse.
Maris Jesse. Source: ERR

Maris Jesse, undersecretary at the Ministry of Social Affairs, said she understands the decision made by Tallinn City Government and schools to move some classes to distance learning, but further plans are already being drawn up in case the infection rate over the coming days becomes of greater concern.

On Wednesday, ERR News wrote that senior school children in Tallinn will move to distance learning on the orders of the city government due to the increasing rate of coronavirus infection in the city.

As of Wednesday, the 14-day average infection rate in Tallinn has risen to 31.5 per 100,000, while the average across the whole country is 20.62. 

Wednesday evening, Maris Jesse said on ETV's politics show "Esimene stuudio" that Tallinn City Government was spooked by the number of new cases over the last week, over half of them in the capital city.

Jesse said: "I understand Tallinn's decision to react. We must also understand the caution exercised by schools because most Estonian sectors have an experience on how to conduct day-to-day work. Schools were closed - they just started back up on September 1 - they essentially are just now learning to live with the coronavirus.

"We will see what the coming days bring. If the coming days are stable and the Health Board (Terviseamet) shows where the outbreaks in Tallinn are and that there will be no surprises, then we can remove some of the fears and still go for stationary learning in schools," the social affairs ministry official said.

She emphasized that primary education classes and fifth-sixth graders should still go to school.

According to Jesse, schools' plans will depend on the infection rate over the coming days.

She said: "We do not know what tomorrow, the day after and the day after that will bring. But if the numbers show no cause for worry, then the Health Board, in cooperation with city government, will draw up new plans."

Jesse added: "It is a matter of cooperation. We can not predict that city government, the Education Department, or school management will have infectious disease specialists on payroll. They are in the Health Board and specialists are in hospitals. To take a look at the situation, assess risks and to plan risk management."


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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