FHI recommends quarantine exemption for teachers – NRK Norway – Overview of news from different parts of the country
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The Norwegian Institute of Public Health recommends that employees in schools and kindergartens be exempted from the quarantine obligation.
The aim of the recommendation is to be able to keep schools and kindergartens open.
Department director Line Vold in FHI says to NRK in principle wants as few exceptions as possible from the quarantine rules. Some may all consider something necessary.
– What is important here is to look at exceptions that must be in place for us to get the wheels of society going, says Vold.
Testing instead of quarantine
The recommendation from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH), which was submitted to the government on Thursday, was first mentioned by Educational news.
– All exceptions from the quarantine of infection give an increased risk of the spread of infection. But we believe this is about whether you want kindergartens and schools to be open in the winter and spring next year, said Pål Surén, researcher and specialist in childhood diseases at FHI.
Line Vold emphasizes to NRK that in order to prevent the spread of infection, they will replace the quarantine with a test system for the school and kindergarten employees who have been exposed to infection.
– How well will it work?
– We have made some calculations on this, and then it is the case that if you follow a test regime as proposed, it should reduce the risk significantly, and be as good as a quarantine system, says Vold, and adds:
– Of course, this presupposes that there is enough test capacity to be able to carry this out.
The government must consider this when deciding on NIPH’s recommendation.
– A very vulnerable position
The Education Association has been positive to a change in the rules, but leader Steffen Handal is concerned about how FHI’s recommendation will work in practice.
– I think the new quarantine rules can work in some places, but in situations where we have high infection pressure and low test capacity, this will be exposing children and adults to too high a risk, he says to NRK.
He fears that the test capacity is not good enough for such a change in the quarantine rules.
– We know that in some places teachers do not have access to tests. It is completely unsustainable.
– What do you have to do now?
– I the government makes a decision that takes into account the actual conditions, namely that teachers are in a very vulnerable position. We are an important function of society, and will go to great lengths, but we must also ensure that we have test capacity and that what we do now is justifiable to the teachers, says Handal.
Line Vold in FHI says that the high infection pressure in society in general can be demanding in a school situation.
When asked if teachers are exposed to extra risk if they are exempted from quarantine, she answers:
– When it comes to being in quarantine because you are defined as another close contact, it is about the risk of passing the infection on to others. So it is the risk you want to reduce by using the quarantine. As a replacement for that, you can use the test regimen that will reduce the risk of passing on the infection.
Exceptions for children and young people
With current rules, employees are quarantined when they are defined as close contact due to infection in the class or department.
At the same time, everyone under the age of 18 is exempt from quarantine, except in the case of infection in the household.
Schools around the country have pointed out that this leads to a situation where children can remain at school and in kindergarten despite infection in the class or department, while employees have to be quarantined.
This leads to a difficult staffing situation in many places.
– Right now the situation is extremely demanding. We have many employees in quarantine, and it is simply difficult to make an offer, said Jannicke Akse, acting municipal manager for schools in Trondheim municipality, to NRK on Wednesday.
This has resulted in several municipalities having shorter opening hours, early Christmas holidays or home schooling in the last days before Christmas.