Prime minister: A week of distance learning after school break is necessary

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas on
Prime Minister Kaja Kallas on "Aktuaalne kaamera". Source: ERR

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) told ETV's daily affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" in an interview that since infections tend to grow right after a school break, restrictions on education could not be eased from Monday, the first day back from the school break.

Why could we not allow children in grades 1-4 to go back to school after the break?

Infection indicators are in a downward trend, but we must see that we are still on the same level we were at on February 12. We have a school break and earlier experience has shown that there is always greater infection after a school break and that is why we must have a break between the school break and going to school.

Looking at infection indicators across Estonia, it is clear that the spread is significantly lower in Tartu and Saare counties. Could the children who want to graduate basic and high school be allowed back to school? Why are they subject to the same restrictions as Harju County?

We had a very detailed discussion about this in the government cabinet. But if we look at the situation of schools across Estonia, children really could go to school in regions with low indicators. This is why we discussed these indicators to be considered from May 3. We will discuss it again next Tuesday (May 27 - ed) and we will see where the situation warrants allowing other children to school.

Could there be another decision made next week, one that allows basic school and high school students to go to school in regions with lower spread?

We had a long discussion on the topic of allowing these regional exemptions, but we have initially agreed to allow primary school students to schools from May 3. We will see what to do next then. And in the regions with lower infection indicators, we could see about allowing more children to school.

Let us presume that the infection indicators will begin increasing as a result of the eased restrictions. Where is the threshold? Which numbers will you take into consideration to re-establish restrictions?

We are looking at these indicators daily. And we will take a look at them in the government weekly. If we set off on making these decisions now, we are making these decisions for two weeks because of how trends go and what forecasts are considered. The current forecasts consider the total number of vaccinated people and the number of people who have had the virus. And these estimates show and promise that even if there is an increase from these openings, the bump will not be as great as to cross the threshold.

We could still operate as a society and move on with opening society.

You have considered that indicators will go up and are not planning on taking any steps back?

Indicators will certainly go up after openings in some capacity, but that is why we are doing this in the long-term perspective, to not burden hospitals. The scientific council's advice now is that there is no such danger if we do this gradually. Why we begun with allowing activities outdoors and we can continue discussing activities in closed rooms.

When can we go to the theater and inside from a restaurant's outdoor terrace?

When infection indicators go down more. If we look at the risk matrix, we are currently in the red and moving toward orange. Once we are in the yellow, I think we can open those as well.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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