The amendment also extends the procedure for protecting people against the infection to students up to the age of 12, who must take a PCR test after coming into close contact with an infected person at school and remain at home until the test result is known. However, as 12–18-year-olds no longer have to immediately take an antigen test after close contact with a person infected with COVID-19 at school, the total number of tests performed will decrease.
According to Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, it is in the public interest to keep schools open during the COVID-19 crisis and at the same time to break the chains of infection in schools as quickly as possible. “The spread of the infection in schools is a major concern. We know that as a rule, children and young people recover from the disease more easily, but they still get sick and bring the coronavirus home where it can lead to severe cases in unvaccinated families,” said Kallas.
The Minister of Education and Research Liina Kersna emphasised that the experience of the past school clearly year showed how important it is for the whole school family to maintain the usual learning process in a way that would keep the spread of the coronavirus under control. “One of the most important goals in resolving the COVID-19 crisis is to keep schools open and functioning so that children and young people get the best possible education and do not suffer in the future due to the worse coping in life as a result of the pandemic,” said Kersna. “Our educators, researchers, parents, and I believe that the majority of society here agree that every effort must be made to keep schools open.” The minister also noted that any parent who trusts doctors and has vaccinated themselves, as well as their 12-year-old or older child, can help keep schools open. “Today, every injection counts for making the Estonian people more healthier and more educated,” said Kersna.
Pursuant to the updated procedure, after learning of the result of the PCR test certifying the absence of infection, the student may participate in school work as well as in all hobby groups. This means that the same regulation will apply to extracurricular hobby education, hobby activities, and youth work, as well as to student sports competitions and sports and exercise events.
If the student does not agree to take the test, they must remain in self-isolation for 10 days. All vaccinated students and students who have recovered from the disease are exempt from testing.
The so-called simplified isolation without testing is only permitted for pre-school children who came into contact with a person infected with COVID-19 at a kindergarten or childcare institution. This means that a child who comes into close contact with an infected person in a pre-school institution must be monitored and, if the child does not show any symptoms of the disease, they may keep attending the kindergarten or child care institution and also participate in the hobby activities taking place at that same institution. They may participate in trainings or other hobby groups outside the institution after 10 days have passed since the close contact.
Regardless of age, a child or a young person with symptoms of COVID-19 after coming into close contact with an infected person must stay home immediately.