Covid-19: What will schools in Norway be like after the summer break?

Schools in Norway spent the previous academic year under strict Covid-19 measures, but what restrictions will be in place for the upcoming school year, and will children be vaccinated? Here’s everything we know so far. 

Covid-19: What will schools in Norway be like after the summer break?
What will schools be like in Norway next term. Photo by Taylor Wilcox on Unsplash

Most schools in Norway spent much of the past school year at either red or yellow level. Yellow level means social distancing, assigned seating plans for each student, no physical contact between individuals and minimising mixing between different classes to limit the spread of Covid-19.

Red level sees measures such as much smaller class sizes or cohorts and partial online schooling. 

Here you can read more about the traffic light system for kindergartensprimary schoolssecondary schools and high schools.

The government has given some hints as to what schools in Norway will look like next year regarding the traffic light system, how they will handle coronavirus outbreaks in schools, and whether they will start vaccinating children. Here’s a breakdown of everything they’ve announced so far. 

Quarantine to be phased out and replaced with testing in schools

Quarantine as a means to control Covid outbreaks in schools will be phased out and replaced with testing, the Norwegian Directorate of Health has said. 

The policy change will take place at the beginning of the school year. 

“During the first two weeks of school restarting, you will see the use of quarantine decrease and testing replace it as an alternative,” Bjørn Guldvog, director of the Norwegian Directorate of Health, told newspaper VG.

Testing will replace quarantine as the primary strategy to contain outbreaks for two reasons, according to Guldvog. 

Firstly, more people will be vaccinated by the time schools return, minimising the risk of outbreaks in schools spreading to wider society. 

Secondly, schools should expect larger class sizes and a return to more normal schooling this fall, more on that later, making it impractical to quarantine everybody who comes into contact with a student who tests positive, as is currently the case. 

So instead, mass testing will be used so students who test negative will still be able to attend school to avoid disruption. 

Schools return to green level

As mentioned earlier, schools have been told to prepare for a return to regular teaching ahead of the next academic year. 

The plan is for schools to begin the year at green level. Green level will see regular class sizes and a more traditional school day than has been the case so far during the pandemic. However, social distancing between staff and good hygiene measures will still be in place, and students will be asked to avoid physical contact such as hugging and handshaking in secondary and high schools. 

You can read more about green level for kindergartensprimary schoolssecondary schools and high schools by clicking the links.

Will children be vaccinated? 

The Norwegian government has said it will probably offer vaccines to 16-and-17-year-olds this autumn. The decision comes after the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) advised the government to do so. 

The final decision of whether 16-17 year-olds will be offered vaccines will be made in September. 

Norway hasn’t made plans to offer shots to kids in other age groups at this stage unless they have underlying illnesses. In addition to this, vaccines are entirely optional in Norway, so children will not be forced to have them. 

How could the Delta variant affect these plans? 

Norway recently postponed the full easing of coronavirus measures due to concerns over the Delta Covid variant, first identified in India, so how could this affect schools? 

The government have previously said that it expects Delta to become the dominant variant over the summer.

READ ALSO: Norway postpones full easing of Covid-19 measures

The NIPH has said that it expects the epidemic in Norway to be kept under control in Norway as more and more people are becoming vaccinated against Covid-19 and the government hopes that the Delta variant can be contained to small local outbreaks rather than national waves of infection. 

Therefore it is likely that more local measures will be placed on schools where outbreaks are occurring rather than the traffic light level being raised nationally or nationwide school closures. 

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What Covid-19 rules apply when going out in Norway?

Norway's government recently tweaked its Covid-19 rules and lifted the alcohol ban introduced at the end of last year, meaning changes to restrictions apply when going out.

Oslo, Norway.
These are the Covid rules if you are planning on going out this weekend. Pictured is Oslo, Norway during the evening. Photo by Ben Garratt on Unsplash

The government has eased Norway’s national Covid rules, and the ban on alcohol being sold in bars, restaurants and other licensed venues has been lifted.

Other changes include an increase to the capacity allowed at venues and a relaxation of quarantine rules for close contacts of those who test positive for the virus.

READ ALSO: Norway lifts alcohol ban as Covid rules eased

Bar’s restaurants and cafes

The country’s alcohol ban has been lifted, meaning licensed businesses can serve customers alcohol.

Venues will be allowed to serve alcohol until 11pm, and a table service requirement is in place, meaning customers can’t order at the bar.

Additionally, restaurants, bars, cafes, and other licensed premises must take customers’ contact details for infection tracking purposes.

Customers will need to wear face masks and maintain a social distance of one metre from those they don’t live with. Face masks aren’t required while seated.  

A maximum of 30 people are allowed to gather at a private event in a public place or on rented premises, such as a table booking.

Museums, shops and theatres

Museums, libraries, shops and shopping centres can stay open but are required by the government to be run in a way compatible with the current restrictions and recommendations. This means that they may opt to have capacity limits. Face masks are mandatory in these settings. Amusement parks, arcades and indoor play areas are all closed.

From noon, Friday, January 21st, the rules on how many people can gather at an indoor public event, such as a show, will rise from 200 with designated seating up to 1,500 people indoors and 3,000 outdoors.

Guests will need to be split into cohorts of 200 and will need to be socially distanced from those not in their household.

Be wary, though, as some theatres have said that the cohort system makes it hard for them to operate near the new 1,500 person limit, meaning some venues may remain closed regardless of the relaxed rules.

Public transport 

If you plan on using public transport to get to your plans, you’ll need to be aware of the rules. These haven’t been changed recently, but the public is asked to avoid public transport during bust periods where possible.

Travellers must wear a face mask if they can’t maintain a social distance of one metre. Masks are also require in taxis and ride-sharing services.

What happens if I or someone I’m with tests positive? 

If you test positive for Covid-19, the isolation period will be a minimum of six days but will not end until you have been fever-free for at least 24 hours without using fever-reducing medicine.

If you live with somebody or your partner has tested positive for the virus, you will need to isolate before testing on day seven. If the test returns negative, then isolation ends. 

Other close contacts of people who test positive for the virus are no longer required to quarantine. Instead, they are asked to take a Covid-19 test on days three and five after being identified as a close contact and to keep an eye out for symptoms for ten days.

READ MORE: What are the current rules for Covid-19 self-isolation in Norway?