“Our ambition is that all students, in one way or another, should be able to return to school before the summer,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg said at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.
One week after kindergartens open, on April 27, pupils in their first four years of school (up until the age of eleven), will return to classes, with the higher grades also returning at some point before the summer, the government said.
In a press release, the government estimated that the decision would allow about 275,000 children to return to kindergartens on 20 April, and 250,000 to primary schools on 27 April, freeing hundreds of thousands of the parents from the need to provide childcare during working hours.
University students who are near the end of their studies and have a need to be physically present at their institution will also be allowed to return. Those would include nursing and medical students, those studying art, performance, music, media, and design, and also those studying maths and technological subjects.
Solberg stressed though that the move did not amount to a decision to allow a controlled increase in infections to develop immunity in the population.
“We want to stick to what we know works. We must continue with the 'knock-down' strategy,” she said. “What we are doing now is opening up a little, but I want to emphasise as strongly as I can, that this does not mean that we can become more careless in other areas.”
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The decision came a day after a similar announcement in neighbouring Denmark, which will open kindergartens and schools for pupils up until class five on April 15.
Norway's government also said it would lift the unpopular ban on people staying in their country cabins, with stays allowed from April 20, although the government stressed that it continued to advise against unnecessary travel.
Parents who cross national borders to visit their children will be excused the normal 14-day quarantine.
Hairdressers and other businesses that are closed to protect people against infection will be allowed to open from April 27, but the government intends to draw up guidelines informing them on how to operate in a way which minimises infection.
The ban on cultural, sporting and other events will be extended until June 15, although ordinary sports activities will be allowed if they do not conflict with social distancing recommendations.
One-on-one healthcare providers, such as psychologists, physiotherapists and psychologists, will be be able to treat patients again from April 20.
Education minister Guri Melby said the government was now working with schools and kindergartens on what measures needed to be taken to minimise the spread of the virus once they open.