Minister of Education Tonje Brenna (Labor Party) is pleased that the government’s corona measures protect children and young people. The Education Association is critical of the fact that employees are not shielded to the same degree.
Minister of Education Tonje Brenna is satisfied with the measures that were presented on Tuesday night – because they shield children and young people to a great extent.
– As Minister of Education, I am concerned that children and young people should be able to go to school and kindergarten. As before in the pandemic, children and young people are also prioritized in this package of measures. At the same time, we plan for the infection control professionally sound operation of schools and kindergartens.
Re-uses the traffic light model
Brenna states that schools and kindergartens across the country will once again use the traffic light model. The level of measures must at least be at the green level, but the municipalities must themselves consider whether they should raise the level of measures to yellow or red.
Warns against the “traffic light model” in schools and kindergartens
The government stated during the press conference on Tuesday night that everyone should keep one meter away from anyone other than household members and similarly close.
The recommendation does not apply to children in kindergartens and primary schools. There are also exceptions for adults who work with services for children and young people and vulnerable groups.
– You will shield children and young people, but how will you take care of teachers who interact with students all the time and can not keep their distance from the students?
– I understand that it is demanding to work in school and kindergarten during a pandemic. Infection is now increasing in society, and therefore we are developing the traffic light model again in order to be able to operate infection control professionally. For me, it is important to listen to the employees. Therefore, I will have a meeting with the sector tomorrow and hear what kind of needs they have.
Brenna says there is “a lot of strain and extra work for teachers over time.” In many places there is a high level of sickness absence, she says and adds that the individual municipality is responsible for ensuring infection control in the schools.
Considering facilitating increased testing of employees
The Minister of Education and Research also talks about the fact that she hopes there will be a lot of testing in the schools so that you have a good overview of the infection picture.
– And schools that report that they lack rapid tests, how should they solve this?
– It is a challenge, but efforts are being made to ensure that the schools have a sufficient number of self-tests to maintain and strengthen such a test regime. It is also considered to facilitate that employees in schools and kindergartens can test themselves more. The municipality shall be compensated for additional expenses such as overtime and the use of substitutes in the event of illness.
Brenna says that the government tries to maintain a most normal everyday life for children and young people and “at the same time have a good dialogue with the sector so that people feel safe when they go to work”.
Leader of the education association, Steffen Handal, reacts to the new measures:
– The government now says that we will keep kindergartens and schools open, but it is difficult to spot measures that would help ensure employees’ health and safety. I am concerned about whether these new measures are sufficient to do something about the high disease rates we have in many schools and kindergartens now.
He mentions that there is now an order for “infection control sound operation in kindergartens and schools”.
– Many teachers now ask themselves what this really means.
The leader of the Education Association mentions that schools with high infection pressure must have regular testing of pupils.
– I reckon that in the future it will include testing of teachers and other employees, because it has been a problem.
He is also concerned about the lack of substitutes in kindergarten and school.
– This calculation does not work. We must reduce the opening hours in kindergartens to prevent having to close down. We are in a demanding situation.
Handal is aware of the problem that several schools do not have access to rapid tests.
– That must be in place test capacity for all teachers who teach in vulnerable areas should be able to test themselves regularly.