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No remote learning, mandatory testing as schools start new academic year

A classroom. Photo is illustrative.
A classroom. Photo is illustrative. Source: ERR

Both the Health Board (Terviseamet) and the government's coronavirus advisory council find that neither remote learning nor mandatory rapid testing is required in schools, ahead of the new academic year, which starts Thursday, ETV news show 'Aktuaalne kaamera' (AK) reported Monday.

The Health Board says a nationwide recommendation to go on remote learning is a very last-ditch measure to stop the spread of the virus, though schools may also switch to distance learning in the fall if, for instance, teachers fall ill and cannot be replaced with supply teachers.

The Health Board recommends urgent testing also when a student or teacher is symptomatic, but at present, the board does not see a need for general testing, and no such order has been given to schools at the beginning of the new school year. 

Ensuring adequate ventilation in schools is paramount, AK reported.

Tallinn's Südalinna school is ready for the return of pupils, and for another year with Covid in mind, school director Veiko Rohunurme told AK.

"Unfortunately, we have to note that while teachers have been at work for a week, some have already fallen sick, while today we already received information about students also falling sick," Rohunurme said.

Rohunurme said that he considered continuous testing necessary, and will be doing so once the year gets underway, in addition to classroom ventilation, the disinfecting of class desks during recess, and optional mask-wearing.

Toivo Maimets, head of the government's coronavirus advisory council, known as the Scientific Council (Teadusnõukoda), also said that there is no need for nationwide measures or lock-down since, while waste-water surveys show that viral spread is extensive, developed immunities and the relative mildness of the predominant Omicron-5 strain mitigate this.

Scenarios are in place, however, including, as a final measure, remote learning, if new, more severe Covid variants should emerge.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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