Even though restrictions laid down at the height of the coronavirus pandemic have been abolished in other walks of life, many kindergartens still do not allow parents to enter. The Ministry of Education and Research said that such conditions are up to kindergartens, while all childcare institutions must give parents ample feedback regarding their children.
Even though people are beginning to forget about weekly coronavirus testing in schools, the obligation to wear a mask in public and other measures used at the height of the pandemic, some kindergartens are sticking to the rule according to which parents are not allowed inside classrooms and must hand over their children on the door. The measure was first introduced to impede the spread of the coronavirus in the spring of 2020.
Some kindergartens also held their Christmas parties outside.
Vice Principal Mait Tõitoja of the Laulasmaa School told ERR that the spread of Covid continues to be a problem, which is why parents are still not allowed in the building.
"There is a lot of the disease going around, and we have decided to stick with the rules and minimize contact," he admitted.
Tõitoja admitted that not all parents are happy with the situation - there are those who care nothing for the coronavirus, while the kindergarten's job is to look after children, not their parents. The head of the kindergarten couldn't say whether the measures will be dropped come summer. It will depend on how many cases of the disease there will be.
The Tallinn Nurmenuku Kindergarten is also keeping parents from the premises. Vice Principal Marge Kiel also runs the Karikakra Kindergarten which has no such restrictions. Kiel said that different rules are down to decisions taken at board of guardians and pedagogical meetings. She remarked that infectious diseases have not gone anywhere, and reducing contacts is one way to slow their spread.
"Our building is old. We have no forced ventilation and can only air out the classrooms when the children and adults are outside," Kiel said of the Nurmenuku Kindergarten. "The premises are small, and it is more difficult for us compared to newer buildings with forced ventilation and smart ways to air them."
Kiel added that decisions are up to individual institutions and the ministry has offered no instructions, while it still recommends reducing contacts during the cold season.
Mari Annus, head of the ministry's communication department, said that the work of kindergartens is organized by the principal's office and the local government. There are no state-level coronavirus restrictions in Estonia.
"However, there are plenty of other infectious diseases going around, and kindergartens can choose to err on the side of caution, also depending on their premises," she said. "The safety of children needs to be ensured when parents hand them over, and we have heard no reports to the contrary."
Annus added that if kindergartens have decided that parents need to hand over and receive their children outside, they need to make sure parents have access to thorough feedback about their child and the kindergarten's affairs.
"If parents cannot enter classrooms and premises, kindergartens need to make sure parents have access to contents of their children's lockers."
Annus said that parents can enter premises and attend both outdoor and indoor events if there is no spread of viruses in the kindergartens. She urged parents to turn to the kindergarten first if they have any questions, while the latter need to notify parents of all restrictions.
Editor: Marcus Turovski