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Education, distance learning and exams

Where can I find additional information or help on the subject of education?

If you have any questions for the Ministry of Education and Research, please contact info[at]hm[dot]ee.

From 18 August the information lines of the Ministry of Education and Research are again open on 5690 0353 and 5690 0340.

For an overview of the rules and guidelines sent to institutions under the Ministry of Education and Research, please see the website https://www.hm.ee/koroona.

Can school trips, graduation ceremonies or other gatherings take place ?

Schools can hold ceremonies, excursions and other events, but should consider whether they are really necessary and should consider the possible risks. It is recommended that events are dispersed and held in smaller groups. The importance of washing hands must be remembered and anyone who is ill must stay at home.

School trips and excursions should be organised for classes or groups separately. It is very important when organising any event that everyone in the contact group should be informed of any case of illness.

It is recommended that trips abroad and international events be postponed.

It is not prohibited to invite guests to events, but we recommend considering very carefully how this can be done safely where necessary.

As of 18 August 2020 the requirement not to exceed 50% of the capacity of internal rooms and the restrictions on the number of participants no longer applies in schools, secondary schools, vocational schools or tertiary institutions, nor in other education institutions, hobby groups, public youth centres, youth camps or educational camps. The restrictions do not apply to hobby activities or informal education either.

The requirements placed by the government are replaced by the recommendations on preventing the spread of the virus, issued jointly by the Ministry of Education and Research and the Health Board. The recommendations can be found at https://www.hm.ee/sites/default/files/htm_koolialgusepakett_a4_2020-2021_viimane.pdf

What happens if somebody falls ill during the school day?

The person who falls ill should inform the management of the institution. A pupil who falls ill should tell their teacher or the school nurse, who will inform the management. The parents of the pupil will be informed of their illness.

The person who is ill will be isolated from everyone else in an appropriate room. They will be given a surgical mask, and it is important to make sure that the mask is fitted correctly. If their illness evidently becomes worse, an emergency call should be made to 112.

To prevent the spread of covid-19, it is important that anyone who is ill, or the parent or guardian of a pupil who is ill, inform the educational institution if the diagnosis of covid-19 is confirmed. The institution will then inform members of the class or group and their parents. This must be handled delicately, without naming the pupil who is ill or giving out of the details that could identify them.

The regional branch of the Health Board will contact the educational institution and inform them of the confirmed diagnosis and identify the contacts of the person who is ill. The institution and the school nurse will help with this.

People who have been in contact with the infected person will remain at home for 14 days. Distance learning will be organised during this time. Those in isolation may not participate in hobby groups, or go to shopping centres or anywhere else.

The other pupils in the school will continue as normal, while monitoring their own health. If symptoms appear, they should contact their family doctor at once.

Can schools and other educational institutions organise trips abroad?

In the context of the spread of the coronavirus, it is recommended to cancel international events and trips abroad. Both the risk of infection and possible physical travel restrictions must be taken into account.

If, despite the risks, a trip is organised, it must be borne in mind that after arriving from a country with an infection rate of 16 or higher, students must remain in self-isolation for two weeks.

What rules do educational institutions need to follow in organising their work?

The school year is starting as normally as possible. The government decided on 18 August to remove restrictions on educational institutions and to replace them from the new school year with the recommendations issued jointly by the Ministry of Education and Research and the Health Board. This decision applies to general education schools, professional and high schools, institutions for further learning, hobby schools, public youth centres, youth camps, educational camps, and training for car drivers and heavy vehicle drivers. The decision removes from these places of education the requirement for rooms to be filled to a maximum 50% capacity.

The management of each educational institution needs to consider how best to minimise the risks of the spread of the coronavirus while providing contact classes for as long as possible for pupils in the 1st to 6th year and pupils who need support.

The key points to remember are:

  • Wash hands regularly and keep good hand hygiene
  • Anyone who is ill or has come into contact with covid-19 must stay at home
  • It is critically important to reduce contact in schools by having separate classrooms for each class, holding classes outside, using some distance learning where necessary, and organising break times carefully
  • Events should be organised in dispersed fashion with smaller groups, and international events and foreign trips should be postponed
  • Protective equipment is very important and personal protective equipment should be supplied by the management of the institution where needed.

Protective measures and equipment are intended to avoid educational institutions going over to full distance learning. Work will be reorganised first at the level of groups or classes, then buildings, institutions or regions, in response to the specific case and the spread of the epidemic in the region.

If the risk of infection rises, educational institution should be ready to move over to distance learning. It is important to maintain and develop the capacity for distance learning throughout the academic year. It should be remembered that there will probably constantly be some pupils and teachers who have to spend some time in self-isolation and study and learn at a distance.

Can vocational education institutions run internships and work experience?

Internships and work experience organised by vocational education institutions cannot be replaced by independent work at home. If practical work experience can be organised, it should be done.

Work experience and practical work should be directed and feedback given in a safe environment.

If it is not possible to do practical work in a company because the company has ceased activities or temporarily reorganised its work, or for some other reason, the student cannot do their practical work experience. Discussions about ending the practical work or finding possible alternatives should involve all three parties, the company, the student and the school.

Do masks have to be worn in schools and other educational institutions?

It is not compulsory to wear protective masks. It is recommended that students and teachers in risk groups wear protective masks in schools.

The school organises the supply of personal protection equipment where needed, working with the school management. The local authorities supply personal protection equipment for youth centres in response to the needs of young people and staff in the centre.

Can opening ceremonies for the school year take place? What are the rules?

Ceremonies can be held. Schools will need to find appropriate solutions for organising events and gatherings that take into account the need to minimise the risks of spreading the virus.

The key rules are:

  • stay at home if you feel ill
  • wash your hands
  • avoid unnecessary contact

As of 18 August 2020 the requirement not to exceed 50% of the capacity of internal rooms and the restrictions on the number of participants no longer applies in schools, secondary schools, vocational schools or tertiary institutions, nor in other educational institutions, hobby groups, public youth centres, youth camps or educational camps. The restrictions also do not apply to hobby activities or informal education either.

The requirements placed by the government are replaced by the recommendations on preventing the spread of the virus, issued jointly by the Ministry of Education and Research and the Health Board. The recommendations can be found at https://www.hm.ee/sites/default/files/htm_koolialgusepakett_a4_2020-2021_viimane.pdf

Can a child go to school if their parent arrives from a trip?

The obligation to self-isolate does not apply to a person, whose immediate family members include those who have arrived from a country with a high infection rate, or who have come into contact with a person who has been in close contact with someone infected with COVID-19.

In other words, if, for instance, a family member arrives from a country with a high infection rate or has been in contact with a person infected with COVID-19, it does not mean that all members of their family should stay at home.

How should dispersion be organised in educational institutions?

Educational institutions are very strongly recommended to organise their learning and other activities in ways that reduce contact between people.

A system where classrooms are designated to classes rather than teachers can be used, holding more classes outside may be considered, and if necessary there could be a partial move to distance learning on certain days or for some subjects. It could for example be planned that older classes will use e-learning once a week.

We also recommend that lunch breaks, PE classes and similar are organised so that contact between groups is minimised.

The school day could start at different times in order to reduce physical contact between pupils, and different classes could have breaks at different times with some made longer so that younger pupils can go outside. Institutions that work in multiple buildings should consider how to reduce movement of pupils between the buildings.

If the risk of the virus increases and it becomes necessary to disperse pupils even more, we recommend that older classes move over to the full distance learning. Younger classes that continue contact teaching can then be dispersed more around the buildings. It is recommended that contact teaching is continued for as long as possible in the first and second levels of basic school and for pupils who need support.

Who decides about closing educational institutions?

The Health Board and the management of the institution decide about closing any educational institution.

Closure generally means that classes will continue through distance learning. If a local spread of covid-19 has been discovered in the region of the educational institution, directions on how to act will be issued by the Health Board in accordance with the local circumstances of the epidemic. If it proves necessary to close the institution, this will probably be done in stages, starting with older pupils who can cope better with distance learning.

The Communicable Diseases Prevention and Control Act states that the Health Board decides on the danger of the spread of an epidemic illness. It also states that the managers of schools and child care institutions may temporarily close the institutions that they run, coordinating this with the Health Board.

On top of closing educational institutions temporarily, the Health Board also has the right to require disinfection or cleaning to be carried out and health tests to be carried out on people so that infectious diseases may be diagnosed. If the introduction of measures and restrictions has a significant social or economic impact, they are introduced by order of the government.

What should students and teachers belonging to risk groups bear in mind?

Students and teachers belonging to risk groups are advised to pay special attention to preventive measures, including the use of personal protective equipment. It is the responsibility of the manager of the educational establishment to provide the personal protective equipment necessary for work.

As the threat of the virus increases, it must be borne in mind that, in order to spare at-risk students and teachers, they must be able to work in the safest possible conditions, which may also mean working remotely.

Can students who have come from abroad go to school?

Anyone coming from a foreign country where the infection rate is 16 or more must usually spend two weeks in self-isolation. The educational institution should be informed of the need for self-isolation and it should be agreed that distance learning will be followed. Educational institutions have the right to require students coming from countries with an elevated infection risk to follow distance learning.

Coronavirus tests at the border and the repeat test seven days later to reduce the length of self-isolation are intended to help people return to work more quickly. Students may also be tested at the border, but a negative result in the first test does not give the right to return to the educational institution immediately. If the result of a second test taken at least seven days after the first is also negative, this is considered equivalent to the two-week period of self-isolation.

People who can reduce their period of self-isolation by taking a test are:

  • People who have Estonian citizenship, an Estonian residence permit or the right to reside in Estonia, and people whose permanent residence is listed as being in Estonia in the population register;
  • Citizens of European Union countries and countries on the joint European Union list.

The reduction in self-isolation granted by testing does not apply to people who have come to work or study from a country that is not on the European Union's joint list of third countries. Citizens of those countries must still spend two weeks observing the restrictions on freedom of movement and abide by any other requirements set For students or workers.

For more on testing see the website of the Health Board.

Up-to-date information on countries and on restrictions on movement for those arriving in Estonia can be found on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs https://vm.ee/en/information-countries-and-self-isolation-requirements-passengers.


Explain to the child what the emergency situation and the coronavirus are

 

Children do not understand the current situation in the whole – the combination of unawareness and a lively imagination create stress and worry in a child. Even if it seems like the child is not worried, explain to her how to act in this situation and assure her that you are there for her.


Help the child with his everyday schoolwork

 

Distance learning has not been implemented in Estonia before which is why the situation is new and exhausting to the child as well. Try to find the time from your work and support your child in his studies.


Don’t let the child have physical contact with her grandparents

 

Children do not usually exhibit the coronavirus symptoms but they might be carriers of the virus. Don’t allow contact between a child and a person who is in the risk group in order to avoid the latter becoming sick.

 

Exams, graduations

Is it possible to graduate without exams?

The lower secondary school state examinations did not take place for this academic year but the test of Estonian as a second language was arranged for students wishing to sit it. In order to graduate the lower secondary school, the average report card grade must be at least ´pass´ or ´sufficient´. Creative subject is not a national condition for graduating from the lower secondary school. The school board will make a decision whether passing this subject is possible or not. If due to the emergency situation it was not possible to complete the course on creative works, then the student graduating from the lower secondary school does not have to do it.

Upper secondary school state examinations were not compulsory meaning upper secondary school graduation is possible without sitting for state exams. Graduating classes who had registered for tests this year could sit for Estonian language, or Estonian as a second language test, mathematics test or an internationally recognised foreign language test.

The state examinations took place at the end of May and early June, and the results were published on 30 June.

During the first half of the next academic year supplementary state examinations will be organised. These are for the students who could not take their exams in the spring, or who are not satisfied with the results.

When will the additional state exams take place this autumn?

According to the initial plan, the additional state exams for the academic year of 2019/2020 will take place as follows:

  1. Estonian (written): October 10, 2020.
  2. Estonian as a second language integrated with B2 proficiency test (written): October 11, 2020.
  3. Estonian as a second language integrated with B2 proficiency test (oral): October 11 to 13, 2020.
  4. English as foreign language B1/B2 (written): September 26, 2020,
  5. English as foreign language B1/B2 (oral): September 26 to October 2, 2020,
  6. Mathematics (written): October 17, 2020.

These dates are listed in the draft Regulation sent for the approval to ministries, heads of schools and teachers' associations, and may be subject to change.

Additional information: innove[at]innove[dot]ee

When is it possible to register for the additional state examinations of the upper secondary school?

Registration for the additional state exams has now closed.

Registration for the additional state exams was open from 6 June to 17 July 2020 for all students graduating from school in the academic year 2019/2020 and for those who graduated from schools or vocational schools in earlier years.

Additional information: innove[at]innove[dot]ee

 

Last updated: 18 September 2020