11 May: Upper secondary schools to change to yellow risk level from Tuesday 18 May

Press release: Oslo City Government has today extended the measures of the City of Oslo’s Covid-19 regulations up to and including 27 May. The City Government intends to re-assess implementing the remaining Stage 2 measures of the reopening plan at the end of next week. Upper secondary schools will change to yellow risk level for infection control measures from Tuesday 18 May. Adult education will continue at red risk level.

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– I am delighted to see that infection rates are continuing to fall in Oslo. The decrease has flattened out slightly, which means that we must proceed in a cautious and controlled manner. However, Oslo City Government believes that it is reasonable to adhere to the plan of introducing the yellow risk level in upper secondary schools next week. We also hope that mass testing at 26 of our upper secondary schools from next week will make it possible to stop any outbreaks before they result in widespread infection. The change to yellow risk level will be accompanied by strict infection control measures in the schools, and I would urge all young people, parents and teachers to continue to comply with the infection control regulations. This will allow us to keep the schools open until the summer holidays, and to gradually open up society, says Governing Mayor of Oslo Raymond Johansen (Labour Party).

– Only five weeks of the school year remains and upper secondary school students have not received full lessons for a long time. They need as many days at school as we can give them. We are making the transition to yellow risk level based on scientific advice. Infection rates among children and young people are on a downward trend and the overall situation remains positive, with more and more people being vaccinated and fewer hospitalisations. As we now gradually start to open up society we are likely to see a slight increase in infection rates. However, infection rates among the 16–19 age group in schools are extremely low. In the last three weeks, there has only been one case per week where the school is the presumed source of infection. We know that most infections occur in households and private gatherings, explains Vice Mayor for Education and Child Services, Inga Marte Thorkildsen (Socialist Left Party).

– We are maintaining the red risk level for adult education. This is necessary to satisfy the requirements of the infection control regulations, and to provide students and staff with predictability during the school day, says Vice Mayor for Employment, Integration and Social Services, Rina Mariann Hansen (Labour Party).

Mass testing

Extensive mass testing plays an important role in the early detection of infections and in limiting further spread. In the week ending 3 May, 3,485 students and staff in upper secondary schools were tested for Covid-19, with only two positive results. The infection rate among 16-19 year-olds is now consistently lower than when the red risk level was imposed in autumn 2020.

Most upper secondary schools are conducting mass testing this week. A total of 26 upper secondary schools will carry out mass testing from next week. More testers are now receiving training and from 18 May, testing will be rolled out in nine lower secondary schools.

– Both students and staff emphasise the importance of avoiding frequent traffic light changes in order to provide as much predictability as possible, and to reduce the number of people having to quarantine. We have listened to this feedback. We expect the changes we are making now to remain in force until the end of the school year in June. However, this pandemic has shown us, time and time again, that it is extremely unpredictable. We are now entering a period with several national holidays with potentially more travel and higher infection rates. It is therefore important that we all do our utmost to comply with the infection control regulations to ensure that things continue to improve, says Thorkildsen.

Upper secondary schools are now entering a period of exams. The plans for these are already in place and will be difficult to change at short notice. Consequently, schools can organise and hold these exams as originally planned where required.

Other measures extended

Other measures in Oslo have been extended up to and including 27 May. This means that the next part of Stage 2 of the reopening plan can be implemented from 27 May. Oslo City Government will review the situation next week and confirm plans towards the end of the week.

– I fully understand why the leisure industry and operators and users of gyms are running out of patience now. The first part of Stage 2 of the reopening plan appears to have gone well, but we must continue to exercise caution. If the infection rates continue to fall it should be possible to open restaurants, gyms, cultural institutions and other arenas by the end of May, says the Governing Mayor.

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