The government's decision to move schools to distance learning from Thursday (March 11) will be in place until April 12, Minister of Education and Research Liina Kersna (Reform) said on Tuesday.
"It is important that the infection coefficient [R] goes under one. We probably will not achieve this in a month. But the decisions have been made for a month. So according to the current knowledge, distance learning lasts until April 12, then we will see," Kersna said.
"When the numbers go down, we can have a relaxation, but most probably not all at the same time, but gradually," the minister added. All children will not be allowed to return to school at once in case this leads to the infection rate rising rapidly again, she said.
"In my opinion, the problem is that we still haven't dealt systematically with making the school environment an unpleasant place for the virus," the minister said, criticizing the last government.
Kersna said she is meeting with schools' principals and scientists on Tuesday to create a plan for how to continue. "Which is the ventilation like, what other measures we can use, for example, rapid tests. All of this should have been done last summer. But we will definitely do it in spring and summer."
Kersna emphasized the new rules are justified due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus.
"Yesterday, the scientific council said that new variants are spreading, which are spreading faster than the regular coronavirus. The spread is high among young people, but now the infection rate has increased among children. It has to be said, however, that the infection rate has increased among the 30-65 year-olds the most and their movements need to be limited the most," Kersna said.
Kersna said that a three-year strategy of exiting the crisis has been formed in the ministry and it includes several short and long-term courses for students and teachers.
Commenting on the summer holiday, Kersna said it will start at the usual time.
The Minister emphasized that distance learning does not mean that children do not receive an education. "Distance learning is learning, it is guided learning by the school. It is a public misconception that during distance learning, students are not learning. Our teachers are well prepared and do a good job. Of course, it is not good for some children, but learning takes place!" Kersna said.
Editor: Roberta Vaino, Helen Wright