Schools in Oslo to switch to online classes amid rising Covid-19 cases

All schools in Norwegian capital Oslo will switch to digital teaching from Friday due to the local coronavirus situation, the city’s municipality has announced. 

Pictured is Karl Johan street in Oslo.
Schools in Oslo will switch to digital teaching from Friday. Pictured is Karl Johan Street. Photo by Alina Shchurova on Unsplash

Online teaching will be introduced at primary schools, secondary schools, adult education and vocational schools and colleges. Kindergartens will remain open, albeit with potentially reduced hours and capacity. 

“It is necessary to introduce fully digital teaching for all schools until the Christmas holidays to ensure safe teaching for all students in Oslo. Kindergartens will be open, but with the possibility of reduced opening hours where there is a need for it,” education councillor Sunniva Holmås Eidsvoll said in an announcement

The municipality said the decision was necessary due to schools in the capital not being able to operate properly at yellow and red Covid-19 restriction levels, which will be introduced on Thursday, as a result of staffing issues in schools with many teachers in quarantine. 

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 being implemented. 

“The situation in Oslo’s schools is now under pressure. Many employees are absent due to illness or quarantine. In addition, many parents are worried that their children will be infected just before Christmas,” Robert Steen, health councillor for Oslo, said. 

Initially, digital teaching will be implemented until the Christmas holidays. 

In addition to Kindergartens remaining open, children considered at risk and those whose parents are key workers will still be able to attend school for the last few days of term. 

Before new measures were announced Monday, the government was reported to have considered starting the Christmas holidays early. In Ålesund, the municipality has given schools the option of breaking up early

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Norwegian government forces teachers’ strike to an end

Teachers in Norway returned to work on Wednesday following a lengthy strike due to the Norwegian government forcing industrial action over wages to an end.

Norwegian government forces teachers' strike to an end

Norway’s government has ended the teachers’ strike and forced unions and The Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS) to a compulsory wage board.

“Unfortunately, the parties have not found a solution to the conflict. The strike is now leading to serious societal consequences for children and young people. I am particularly concerned about the pupils’ education, vulnerable children and young people and their mental health. After an overall assessment, I have therefore proposed a compulsory wage board,” Labour and Inclusion Minister Marte Mjøs Persen said in a statement.

Teachers decided to strike in June over wage growth in recent years. Unions said teachers had been the wage losers of collective bargaining agreements between KS and the public sector for the last six years.

KS maintained throughout the strike that it did not have the funds available that teachers were demanding. Around 8,500 teachers were on strike before the government brought industrial action to an end.

Over the past few weeks, several organisations called on the government to end the strike in the interest of students’ well-being.

Typically, strikes aren’t referred to the compulsory wage board in Norway unless there is a threat to public health.

Last week, unions met with KS and mediators, but the parties were unable to break through the deadlock.

“It is deeply regrettable that the government has chosen to intervene with a compulsory wage board. They now assume a great deal of responsibility for what has been the basis of the conflict,” Steffen Handal from the Norwegian Education Association said of the government’s decision.