“We need to dramatically reduce the amount of contact between one another, so I have unfortunately been forced to recommend that municipalities from Monday cease on site education for pupils in högstadiet [lower secondary school, usually for pupils aged 13 to 15], and move to distance learning for the rest of term,” Maria Rotzén Östlund, the region's infectious diseases doctor, said in a press release.
She said that she was in discussions the region's 26 municipalities, which are responsible for operating schools, so that they could communicate the decision to parents as quickly as possible.
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According to the press release, the region is recommending that on site education is stopped as soon as possible, “ideally from Monday”, but is leaving responsibility for enacting the recommendation to municipalities and schools.
Sweden shifted upper secondary schools to distance learning between March and August, but this is the first time schools have been closed to younger students in Stockholm.
Rotzén Östlund said that it was important that the schoolchildren did not continue to socialise widely with one another after being sent home.
“Just distance learning will not be enough. I also want to stress how important it is to limit our social contacts to as few people as possible, even in free time,” she said.
She said she was also strongly recommending employers to allow as many staff as possible to work from home.
Everyone in Stockholm is currently recommended to avoid all non-essential contact with people they do not live with, and from Monday new national recommendations will come into effect. The new recommendations are less specific when it comes to socialising, with everyone required to limit their contacts as much as possible and stick to their own 'bubble' of close family or friends. While the government has stressed the importance of meeting no more than eight people in total, the Public Health Agency has not given a specific number of individuals or households.
The city of Malmö on Thursday decided to bring the autumn term to an early close for primary schools, with schools closed from December 18th rather than December 22nd. This followed a recommendation from the Skåne region to end term on December 18th or, if that was not possible, to shift to distance learning only for the last few days.