Pärnu schools to decide whether to continue with remote learning next week

Children at Pärnu Ülejõgi school getting some slackline practise in.
Children at Pärnu Ülejõgi school getting some slackline practise in. Source: ERR

The decision whether to continue with remote learning or to return to in-class teaching at municipal schools in the southwestern Estonian city of Pärnu is likely to be down to the schools themselves from next week. As in Tallinn, schools in Pärnu have been on remote learning amid soaring coronavirus rates.

Pärnu city government has announced that the remote learning in schools installed for this week has been beneficial, with infection rates among school-age children falling, while in most schools children may be able to return to in-class learning from next week. 

At the same time, the situation varies from school-to-school, and each school head will choose which restrictions to impose on the basis of Health Board data.

Margus Veri, chairman of the Pärnu city school leaders' association (Pärnu linna koolijuhtide ühendus), and director of the Ülejõgi basic school (põhikool), told ERR that from next Monday it will be possible for a school head to decide whether to allow children to school and whether all or certain classes have access to contact education. 

"Most school leaders will probably decide that all pupils come to school and restart contact learning," Veri said.

Schools will also start testing students and teachers three times a week in the morning. 

The Ülejõgi school is to try to cooperate with parents in this by sending the tests home, so they can be done in a more stress-free environment at home, before coming to school, Veri went on.

Last week, the city government, together with the school leaders, decided that all municipal schools, municipal hobby schools and youth centers would go to distance learning after the half-term break ended. 

Students with special needs, primary classes and upper secondary school students were included in the requirement.

However, Veri said, there is no evidence of one particular age group being more infected than another, despite findings at a meeting in the town Thursday which found younger children could revert to in-class learning while grades 5-8 should remain on distance learning.

In Tallinn, grades 4-8 are on remote learning, with the rationale being that they are more susceptible to the virus.

Ülejõgi school saw 15 infections as of last week. The school has 847 students.

Another part-solution may involve remote learning for core lessons and in-contact learning at extra-curricular hobby groups, Veri said.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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