University employees still awaiting coronavirus vaccination

A lab at the Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech).
A lab at the Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech). Source: ERR

Vaccinations have reached most general, primary and vocational schools and other staff, but employees of higher learning institutions are still awaiting their inoculation. Since the vaccine coverage of lecturers is not increasing, universities will remain closed for the end of the schoolyear.

Tallinn Industrial Education Center (Tallinna Tööstushariduskeskus) hairdressers-to-be are currently trying their hand on mannequin heads. While this kind of training can be done from a distance, there is a considerable lack of contact with the teachers," ETV's daily affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported on Thursday.

"Where you stand, how you cut, matters a lot in cutting hair. There are many nuances, all are very important," said Evelin Jõgi, a student at the school's hairdresser program, said.

There are eight programs in the school and only IT can be studied from a distance currently. Industrial Education Center director Paul Alekand said the volume of practical studies in vocational education makes up 50-60 percent. He added that the school has been able to conduct practical studies for four weeks, but in reduced capacities.

"There is a 25 percent capacity limit in rooms, which means that four-five students can take part in practicing, which in turn brings teachers more of a burden," Alekand said.

A little over 50 percent of school employees who applied for a vaccine have received one dose.

But while vocational school teachers have received a vaccine dose, employees of universities are still awaiting theirs. Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) has opened their information technologies and science departments, to go with the Maritime Academy. To avoid infections, lab organizers and students must go through COVID-19 rapid testing. Distancing is ensured in the labs.

There are only two students present in a class of Taltech's chemistry and biotechnology department. "Right now, there is an instrumental analysis class and students are currently determining the paraben content in different creams. If it is written on a cream's etiquette that it includes parabens, we will check if it really is so," said Maria Kuhtinskaja, a docent at the school.

TalTech's spring practical training affects some 1,000 students. Classes are allowed, but since university employees are unvaccinated, it is unsafe to do so. "We have conducted in-house mappings and there is great interest. I would say it is some 80 percent," said the university's vice-rector for studies Hendrik Voll.

Ministry of Education and Research vice-chancellor Robert Lippin said that the inoculation of university employees has delayed due to vaccine shipments. "As of our knowledge, since vocational schools are already working, some two thirds of applicants there have received an injection, universities are next," Lippin said.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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