Multiple schools left having to purchase rapid tests after supplier issues
Since the Ministry of Education and Research found a new supplier for the rapid tests used in schools, the delivery schedules have been out of order. Several schools have decided to acquire their own tests in the meantime to continue the ministry's recommendation to test.
Schools have been given the right to decide if they wish to conduct extensive testing in schools, or follow the education ministry's recommendation of only testing unvaccinated members of the school family and those who have not recovered from the coronavirus in the previous six months.
Ministry crisis manager Rain Sannik said they have no overview of how many schools have decided to continue extensive testing, meaning testing everyone at the school.
Collected data about testing frequency shows that of the 478 schools to forward data to the ministry, 79 (16.5 percent) tested three times a week, 372 (77.8 percent) tested twice a week, 26 (5.4 percent) tested once a week. One school has decided not to test anyone.
Tartu city government education department director Riho Raave told ERR that Tartu schools will continue testing everyone. "The position of Tartu schools is that we should test all students, there will be no distinction made between vaccinated and unvaccinated students. And we certainly need to test at least twice a week - at the start of the week and then mid-week," Raave said.
Several schools have complained that they have not received their rapid tests this week. Rain Sannik said the delays stem from a change in supplier. The contract with the previous supplier ran out recently and all tests meant for November have been distributed. A new supplier will begin delivering tests next week.
"We have an agreement with the new supplier that a new shipment of tests must be distributed to schools by December 8 at the latest," Sannik noted.
He said the ministry hopes that schools have enough tests stocked. "From the knowledge we had, the assumption was that there will be tests left over in schools. There are schools, where that has happened, but we have also been informed that there are schools, where tests have ran out or are about to," Sannik said.
If the schools have no tests left over or they have decided to continue extensive testing, the school manager must come up with the additional costs.
"The fastest solution is for these schools to purchase their own tests and it will be compensated by the city. There are 15,000 students in Tartu, acquiring such an amount through a state procurement would take time and is not an option for a quick solution," Riho Raave said.
The city of Tartu plans to tests students twice a week until the holidays. "We will see what happens after the school break (December 23 - January 9 - ed). We certainly need to continue testing for some time after children return to schools, because they are in contact more during the break, perhaps they even travel and there are risk factors there if we do not test," Raave noted.
The education ministry has picked Medesto Logistics OÜ to be the new supplier of rapid tests to be used in schools. The total cost of the contract is €2,370,000 and includes the delivery of 2,078,947 (at €1.14 each) rapid tests to be used in schools. The cost of the contract includes all necessary costs, including delivery and procurement.
The education ministry signed a contract with SelfDiagnostics OÜ for the supply of rapid tests in October. The cost of that contract was €5,132,000 and the tests provided by the company lasted schools until the end of November.
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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste