The Public Health Agency has previously advised olders teenagers and adults to remain at home if one of their family members has Covid-19, but younger children have been told to go to school as normal as long as they don't experience any symptoms of the virus themselves.
But the agency is now changing those recommendations, stating that even young children who are symptom-free should stay home if a family member tests positive.
The agency has consistently argued that young children are not the main drivers of the new coronavirus, and reiterated on Tuesday that both children and teachers were at low risk, and that it did not think the new measure would have “any significant effect on the spread of infections in schools or society at large”.
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“The change is intended to create a calm working atmosphere, and to enable schools to focus on their pedagogical work. We hope that the recommendations can ease the worries that we know that many teachers and other staff have had when it comes to receiving children with Covid-19 in the home,” said Britta Björkholm, head of the department of communicable disease control and health protection, in a statement.
Sweden has never implemented a nationwide closure of schools for children aged under 16 at any point during the pandemic. However, it has made it easier for individual schools to close and move to online teaching – for example if it is urgently necessary due to a shortage of teachers or a local coronavirus outbreak at the school.
Swedish Education Minister Anna Ekström was set to address the new recommendations for schoolchildren at a press conference at 11am on Tuesday.