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The Health Board: keep safe your school graduation ceremony

In spite of the drop in the number of new COVID-19 cases, the Health Board advises everyone to congratulate school-leavers in an outdoors environment if the weather is suitable, and to avoid mass gatherings. Anyone who develops any symptoms or who is required to self-isolate must remain at home.

Estonia’s government has not established any specific restrictions for school graduation ceremonies. Anyone who is required to self-isolate may not attend school-leaving ceremonies, and anyone who is experiencing any symptoms must also remain at home. Each school must find the safest way in which to organise its ceremony by taking into account the local situation, as well as the available options for being able to present a safe ceremony.

‘All school-leavers, teachers, and parents richly deserve gratitude and acknowledgment for their efforts over the past year. However, I would like to ask everyone not to forget about safety during this celebratory period, as we all want to be healthy during our well-deserved summer holidays,’ said Liina Kersna, Minister of Education and Research.

‘In order to alleviate any risk of infection, we advise all schools to hold their graduation ceremonies outdoors. The process of handing out graduation certificates to everyone in one large gathering should be avoided if possible. Instead it is advisable to divide students by school class and hold smaller, more individual ceremonies,’ explained Üllar Lanno, director-general of the Health Board. If it is not possible to hold the ceremony outdoors then face masks should still be worn in crowded indoor conditions. COVID-19 rapid tests may also be taken to alleviate the risk factor. Those individuals who have just arrived from a foreign country should certainly stay away from any graduation ceremonies.

The Health Board have been informed about the first case of an individual who had attended a graduation ceremony who has since tested positive for coronavirus, with indications that they have been infected with the Indian variant of the virus. The Health Board is concerned about the fact that the suspected Indian variant is more resistant to the current vaccines and is also more infectious. In total, thirty-six samples which were characteristic of the Indian strain were found in Estonia in week 22.

The Health Board would like to ask everyone to congratulate their school-leavers at home if at all possible. ‘Coronavirus is especially hard on the elderly, so it would be far better and safer for grandparents and other elderly family members to congratulate school-leavers at home,’ explained Lanno. 

The director-general of the Health Board and the Minister of Education and Research advise all school leavers to get themselves vaccinated over the summer. ‘Anyone who is at least sixteen years of age also can book a time slot for vaccination against COVID-19 in Estonia,’ he said, adding that vaccination is probably the only likely solution that will allow everyone to return to a more normal way of life. ‘Each and every individual who has been vaccinated counts: it is only by achieving the total vaccination of the population that we can protect the weakest amongst us, people who are not able to get vaccinated due to an underlying health condition,’ explained Lanno. Kersna agreed with his statement. ‘In order to protect ourselves as well as others, I would advise all young people who can do so to get themselves vaccinated over the summer. This will allow us to start the new academic year with much more confidence,’ she said.

Relaxing restrictions has so far been successful. The number of new cases is still showing a declining trend. We advise people to observe all of the preventive measures which have been established in order to avoid being infected. These measures include good hand hygiene, social distancing, mask-wearing in crowded indoor premises, and avoiding touching one’s eyes, nose, or mouth with dirty hands.

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