Close to thirty education unions and organizations representing thousands of educators have signed a joint appeal for vaccination ahead of the new school year, to facilitate in-class learning rather than a return to remote teaching.
While the bulk of teachers have been vaccinated, many have not, the statement notes, and school-children age twelve and over are eligible to get vaccinated, along with non-teaching staff.
"There are less than a month left until the beginning of school," the statement, signed by close to 30 educator organizations representing around 10,000 staff, reads.
The largest single organization by membership is the main teaching trade union, the Estonian Association of Educators (Eesti Haridustöötajate Liit), which has over 6,000 members.
"The experience of recent years shows that the best and most effective way for the majority of students is to study in-school, with a teacher. Teachers trust doctors – around 70 percent of teachers are now vaccinated against the coronavirus," the statement continued.
Education minister Liina Kersna (Reform) said Wednesday that the government needs to ensure in-person learning in schools, a matter to be tabled at the regular cabinet meeting Thursday.
"Every vaccination and the conscious contribution of everyone counts in the fight against the coronavirus. We can protect ourselves and care for our schoolmates. We will keep Estonian schools and life open together," the statement adds, noting that vaccination is open to those age 12 and over and that getting a first vaccination now means the second can be obtained around the time the new school year starts, a little under a month from now.
One head teacher, Madis Somelar of the Tallinn Secondary School of Science (Tallinna Realkool), said via a press release that he was: "Sincerely pleased that a large number of teachers' associations have joined in the public address. This shows that our teachers trust the doctors. There are certainly members of teachers' associations who have not yet been vaccinated, but I believe that many of them will do so soon."
The 28 organizations which signed the address included the Estonian Class Teachers' Association ( Eesti Klassiõpetajate Liit), the Estonian Math Society (Eesti Matemaatika Selts) and the Russian Language Teachers' Association (Vene Keele Õpetajate Selts), while most aspects of education – science, humanities, language, physical education, kindergarten education (which runs to age seven in Estonia) were represented on the list.
Editor: Andrew Whyte