Education minister: COVID-19 rapid testing should be used in schools

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Education minister Liina Kersna (Reform) Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Coronavirus testing should be introduced in schools, education minister Liina Kersna (Reform) says.

Following a meeting with experts and education leaders, Kersna said Tuesday afternoon that: "I think this is our future," adding that consideration should be given to mandatory mask-wearing from age 10.

While schools have in the past imposed their own coronavirus practices, the ministry has since then imposed centralized and standardized practices.

Speaking about testing, which would be of the rapid variety, Kersna said this: "Will help to quickly identify people at risk of infection."

The mask-wearing putative age has been lowered from 12 to 10, something which Kersna said she did not rule out installing in schools, due to their proven effectiveness.

Investment needed for testing and masks would come with a price-tag of around €350 million, for Estonia's nearly 800 schools and over 460 registered kindergartens.

Other precautions should include CO2 sensors, which indicate if spaces are not well-ventilated – which in turn promotes the spread of coronavirus aerosol particles, ERR reports.

As to the type of test which should be instigated, this would depend on the age of the student, with saliva tests best for those from grades 1-6, with the naso-pharyngeal variety suitable from age 14.

The ventilation issues are to be further addressed in conjunction with the main consumer protection body, the TTJA and with schools themselves, ERR reports, while Tartu University researchers are finishing off a study which looks at the relationship between schools, schoolchildren, school facilities and practices, and viral spread.

Representatives from Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) and other higher education institutions also attended Tuesday's meeting with Liina Kersna.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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