Education minister: Option of closing all schools not on table

Liina Kersna.
Liina Kersna. Source: Riigikantselei

Minister of Education and Research Liina Kersna (Reform) said the option of sending all schools to remote learning as a coronavirus restriction is not being discussed whatsoever. She noted that the high hospitalization numbers currently will not be aided closing schools, but rather risk group vaccinations.

"We have had schools, where the situation is bad and those schools have mostly gone to remote learning. But we have also seen the school break (October 25-31) having a positive effect. Students remained on remote learning for a week after the break, this also helped in cutting off infection chains," the education minister told ETV's morning show "Terevisioon" on Friday.

"With schools testing regularly now, there should be no school outbreaks as infected people will stay home right away. I hope we will not reach a situation, in which we have to treat all schools the same," she noted

Kersna added that it would be unjustified to send schools with a student vaccination rate over 70 to remote learning. There are 44 such schools in Estonia.

"Why should we send them to a distance? Restrictions have to be justified and must help lessen the workload of hospitals. And what actually helps is vaccinating risk groups," the education minister said.

She said the epidemiological situation in some Estonian regions has been very bad, which is why some schools have had to learn from a distance. "The situation is not only bad with the virus, but with vaccinations, as well. There were many outbreaks in Ida-Viru schools, for example. There was a lot of infection and few vaccinated people. The Delta variant unfortunately catches anyone unvaccinated. We had one school with 91 infected people," Kersna said.

The minister said she is hopeful that most students can continue with contact classes. "Testing in schools offers a sense of security. To parents and teachers. We discover virus carriers that do not know they are infected. Tests have also been quality, because all positive rapid tests have been confirmed with PCR-testing," Kersna said.

The education ministry is set to receive a report on the total number of discovered infections and outbreaks in schools by Friday evening,

"Looking at the first day of testing (Monday - ed), we called 56 school managers and already got 54 positive results. There are 521 general education schools in Estonia. We avoided a lot if all schools discovered one," Kersna said.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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