Tightened COVID-19 restrictions for schools take effect tomorrow, including mandatory mask usage for students in grade 5 and above. Tightened COVID-19 restrictions took effect in Iceland on Saturday, October 31, including a gathering ban on groups over 10 and mandatory mask usage in stores for everyone over the age of five. Preschools, primary schools, and music schools are closed today in the Reykjavík capital area in order to plan the implementation of the new restrictions. They will reopen tomorrow, November 3.
The regulations from primary schools (grades 1-10) are listed below.
- Grades 1-4: Students are exempt from the 2-metre rule and are not required to wear masks. Up to 50 students may be in the same room. The same rules apply to after-school centres for students in grades 1-4.
- Grades 5-10: No more than 25 students may be together in a single room. Both students and staff are required to keep a 2-metre distance from each other and use masks when distancing cannot be maintained.
- Primary School Staff: No more than 10 staff members can be together in a single room. Staff are permitted to move between groups. Staff must maintain two-metre distancing between each other and from students in Grades 5-10. Where two-metre distancing is not possible, staff members are required to wear masks.
- Gathering Limits and Group Separation: Students in primary schools and after-school centres shall be kept in the same groups which will remain separate. The gathering limit may be broken and group mixing is permitted in the school’s common areas as long as staff and students in grades 5-10 wear masks.
- Athletics: Organised athletic activities and recreational programming for youth, including community centre programs for primary school children is not permitted.
Secondary Schools, Universities, and Music Schools
- The general 10-person gathering limit applies, as well as mandatory 2-metre distancing and mask usage for universities, music schools, and secondary schools. For first-year mandatory subjects in secondary schools, groups of up to 25 students are permitted, as long as 2-metre distancing is maintained.
- Mixing of students between groups is not permitted, but staff and teachers may move between groups. The gathering limit may be broken and group mixing is permitted in the school’s common areas as long as masks are worn.
- Practical teaching, art, and clinical studies may be held outdoors with the same 10-person limit even when 2-metre distancing cannot be maintained. Mask use is, however, mandatory.
Teachers Oppose Exceptions for Young Students
The Primary School Teachers’ Association released a statement urging authorities to reconsider the regulations issued for schools. The statement argues that the decision to allow students in grades 1-4 to be in groups of up to 50 without requiring 2-metre distancing or the use of masks “seriously undermines” the objective of tightening COVID-19 regulations.
The association says it is not disputing research that shows children are less likely to contract and spread the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It points out, however, that the general regulations that took effect on Saturday are meant to apply to everyone born before 2015.