More careful parents have not been sending their children to school during the coronavirus pandemic. However, schools are not obliged to ensure distance learning for individual students.
Distance learning will continue until January 25 in Harju and Ida-Viru Counties, th worst-affected regions. In the rest of Estonia, children with some exceptions are welcomed at school.
Deputy Secretary General (Secondary and Adult Education) Robert Lippin said that he understands the worries of the parents who would keep their children at home, but emphasized that if possible, children should still participate in contact learning.
"If the parent makes a decision to not send his or her child to school, whatever the reason, fear of the virus, a domestic situation, then the parent doesn't have the right to demand a parallel system from the school to teach children studying both at home and at school," Lippin said.
"It is definitely not possible for the teacher to do two parallel systems because there is a limited amount of hours in a day."
Lippin added that if the school is able to offer distance learning, it is welcomed. Even if the student has to isolate himself as close contact, the school is not obligated to offer contact learning.
"If the close class is on distance learning due to the spread of the virus, then the schools have to organize the teaching from distance. If somebody has stayed home due to being sick or close contact, then the teachers and schools can't be forced to do it."
Tartu Kivilinn school's principal Karin Lukk said that they have five students who are not participating due to the wish of their parents. Lukk said that they have been able to convince the worried parents or if really needed, offer distance learning.
"Of course, the more there will be students like this, the more complicated it will be because the more distinctions would have to be done. If there will be more cases we have to look at every case separately on how to give the permit," Lukk said.
"Maybe it would be possible to talk to the family and decrease those fears and the child can still go to school if we help them. It all requires considering each child separately."
Jaan Poska High School principal Helmer Jõgi said that when a student is ready for independent work, the school should find a solution.
"If it's done officially by the parent, why not? The school can't be against it. It also means that the student has a bigger responsibility compared to studying in the class or being on distance learning with the whole class. There the school is obligated to offer quality teaching."
Editor: Roberta Vaino