Education minister proposes to send children back to school

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Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab (Center).
Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab (Center). Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Minister of Education and Research Jaak Aab (Center) will make a proposal to the scientific advisory council and the government on Tuesday stating the country's schools would be able to return to contact learning after the end of the winter break, Postimees reported.

However, an exception would apply to Harju and Ida-Viru counties. In these counties, only pupils in grades 1 to 4 and students of the final grade would return to learning in school, whereas the rest of students would remain in distance learning. 

The winter break in Estonian schools ends on January 10.

The minister said the current coronavirus situation allows him to make the proposal. Consideration must be given to changing the approach if the numbers of infected people rise rapidly in the near future. 

The need for further restrictions must be decided on January 7 at the latest, according to the minister.

The proposal will be based on scenarios prepared at the Ministry of Education and Research which are based on the premise that, in the organization of learning and hobby activities, flexibility is required and actions should match the epidemiological situation in the specific region.

In the implementation of all scenarios, the precautions that are necessary for the prevention of the spread of the virus must be observed.

Lutsar: I very much support the opening of primary schools

Virologist and head of the government's scientific advisory council Irja Lutsar told ERR she was in favor of schools reopening on January 11, especially for younger children who need parental supervision at home which reduces the number of vital workers.

Lutsar did not say when the new restrictions put in place in Harju County would end: "The first goal is for things to stabilize."

She said the controversial decisions to close sports clubs had been made as the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has risen and approximately a third of people do not know where they contracted the infection.

Editor's note: This article was updated to add comments from Professor Irja Lutsar.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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