Restrictions: Grades 9 and 12 can return to school on May 3

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An empty classroom. Source: Juhan Hepner/ERR

School children in grades 9 and 12 can return to school on May 3, the government decided on Tuesday. Coronavirus safety measures must be followed.

From Monday, May 3, pupils in grades 1-4 and 9 and 12, will be able to return to the classroom. A school building occupancy rate of 50 percent will be in force.

However, if a child has returned from a holiday abroad, they must stay in self-isolation for 10 days or take two PCR coronavirus tests at least six days apart which must both give a negative result before returning to school or hobby activity. The first test can be performed up to 72 hours before arrival in Estonia.

A travel declaration form must be filled in when crossing the Estonian border.

Minister of Education and Research Liina Kersna said it is up to schools to decide how to implement the 50 percent occupancy rate. By making it a school-wide rate, this gives students the possibility to rotate by class, she said.

"For example, grades 5-6 on Mondays and Tuesdays, grades 7-8 on Wednesdays and Thursdays. It is important that there are 50 percent of children in the school," Kersna said. "It has to be taken seriously, the children have to be spread out in the school building, the teaching has to take place in bubbles so that children have as little contact as possible."

The Ministry of Education, in cooperation with the Health Board, will also distribute rapid tests to unvaccinated teachers.

Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab (Center) told ERR the government will discuss sending more classes back next week when more data is available.

If children are all sent back to school on May 10, restrictions will start to ease in the rest of society on May 17, he said.

"Be it restaurant interiors, spas or sports in larger groups. There was a unanimous decision that we would not decide and ease too quickly, so we'll look again next week at what can be eased on May 17," he added.

No other decisions related to restrictions were agreed on Tuesday. The government has already agreed restrictions can start to ease on May 3 for shops and restaurants.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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