Government lacks clear plan to ensure infection safety at kindergartens

Kindergarten (photo is illustrative).
Kindergarten (photo is illustrative). Source: Olev Kenk/ERR

The busiest period of the kindergarten year is set to begin in the second half of August, but the government does not yet have a clear plan on how infection safety will be ensured at childcare facilities.

On Thursday, the government accounced that only children displaying COVID-19 symptoms and children who test positive for the virus must remain at home from the fall. Rapid tests will also be used to test unvaccinated teachers and children deemed close contacts who display symptoms.

While 61 percent of pre-primary institution pedagogues are vaccinated across Estonia, the vaccine coverage in the Tallinn Paekaare Kindergarten in Lasnamäe is at 84 percent. Director Piret Kütt told ERR that constant communication with teachers has led to the success.

"We have encouraged them daily and we actually gained a few percentage points, when a teacher called me during my vacation and thanked us for our patience, since they got vaccinated. So it is daily work, communicating, encouraging, speaking about the dangers. There is no other way," Kütt said.

Tallinn Education Department head Andres Pajula told ERR that information on further operation is still very fresh and would need more clarity. Kindergartens will not be turned into testing facilities, he said, adding that the city does not know how many teachers are unvaccinated.

Minister of Education and Research Liina Kersna (Reform) explained that further instructions will be forwarded to educational establishments during the upcoming week and that tests are mandatory for teachers who are not vaccinated or recovered from the virus.

"We actually do not have an exact plan set up with the Health Board. It is a topic for the near future, we also discussed organization and testing with the government [on Thursday]," Kersna added.

She said the Health Board has rapid tests meant for adults in storage that can be distributed to establishments for testing teachers once a week. "We need to acquire child-friendly tests to be able to test close contacts," the minister added.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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