Kersna: Classes 9 and 12 could also return to school on May 3

Older children should also be allowed to return to school on May 3, Minister of Education and Research Liina Kersna (Reform) said on Monday. The government's scientific advisory council and Mayor Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) agree.

During an interview with ERR, Kersna said she supports the idea of children in grades 9 and 12 returning to school on May 3, along with children in classes 1-4. More children may be able to return to school on May 10, she added.

"In the current situation, it is important that not too many children return to school at one time. A step-by-step approach is wise not to increase the number of contacts at a time," she said.

"I suggest that at least the final grades could also go to school in all regions on May 3 so that they can be in contact learning before the end of the school year. 

"By May 10 at the latest, students from other classes could be admitted to the school in rooms with up to 50 percent occupancy."

She said the restrictions will be discussed again on Tuesday and creating regional education restrictions is not off the table.

Kersna emphasized that rules must be followed: "People over the age of 12 should wear a mask, including teachers, rooms should be ventilated, teaching should be done in a way that avoids contact with others, outdoor learning should be used as much as possible. It is certainly important to offer the possibility of using rapid tests, especially for teachers who have not been vaccinated."  

Kõlvart: Schools could be opened a little faster

Speaking on Vikerraadio on Tuesday morning, Mihhail Kõlvart said he supports schools opening step by step and that things could be moving faster.

Despite previously being an advocate for closing schools in the capital quickly, he said his views have changed based on new knowledge and data created by the pandemic.

"Although we have a year of experience, we have to admit that we still have little knowledge about this disease and the situation is changing very quickly," Kõlvart said, adding that we must always be prepared for the worst-case scenarios.

He said it can be hoped that summer will bring some relief, as it did last year, but at the same time, the public sector must be preparing for a possible third wave.

Scientific council: All children could return to school on May 10

Virology Professor Irja Lutsar, head of the government's scientific advisory council, said all children could return to school on May 10. The government will make the final decision.

Lutsar said it depends on what other restrictions are lifted at the same time as the infection rate is still around 0.8-0.86, which is not far from 1, and could quickly rise again. But she said the council "supports all children going to school on May 10".

She also emphasized the importance of following social distancing rules, wearing masks and proper ventilation.

The final decision will be made by the government.

Last week, Lutsar said priority should have been given to reopening schools instead of reopening the economy. On May 3, outside terraces and shops will reopen with set opening hours and capacity limits.

Editor's note: This article was updated to correct that Liina Kersna said classes 9 and 12 could return to school not classes 9-12.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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