Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) is not wavering in his decision to send grades 4-8 schoolchildren at municipal schools on to remote learning for one week, starting Monday, while higher, and lower, grades will continue in-class learning.
Kõlvart's rational is that Covid rates remain high, while infections are mostly spreading in schools or in homes.
Schools return from the half-term break on Monday, and while the national policy outlined by education minister Liina Kersna (Reform) is to stay with in-class learning, but with bi-weekly rapid covid tests for unvaccinated teachers and students over 12, not only Tallinn but also Pärnu and Narva municipal governments have made the decision to switch to remote learning from November 1.
Kõlvart told daily Postimees Friday that: "1,000 children and 70 teachers have been infected."
This puts too much pressure on schools in managing the situation, he added.
He said: "Schools has been given the functions of the Health Board, whereby a school must map close contacts, monitor whether the student got tested or not etc. However, since the Health Board states that they cannot share personal data, the school does not have more detailed information about those infected."
A buffer is also needed when returning from half-term, a time during which many schoolchildren will have visited relatives and friends, traveled around the country (or outside the country) and attended leisure and entertainment events.
Kõlvart clarified that no sanctions will be imposed on school leaders in Tallinn who ignore the edict, adding the situation will be reconsidered next Tuesday, as will a possible extension of the remote learning period beyond next week.
The mayor added that push-back from school leaders a month ago stopped Tallinn schools from going on remote-learning at that time, adding that while there are still differences of opinion, the worsening epidemiological situation has brought most stake-holders on board.
The Tallinn policy only applies to municipal schools. Some private schools in Tallinn have already stated they will not be following the same principle.
While Kõlvart put grades 4-8 (ages 10-14) as the worst hit age group in terms of infections, education minister Kersna said during the week that the 15-17 age-group was the most affected, though she was speaking about the national picture.
Editor: Andrew Whyte