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Schools prep for in-person classes, Ukrainian youngsters and possible energy crunch

With an energy crisis looming, Finland's schools have been instructed to plan for possible power, heating, and data network disruptions.

File photo of an empty classroom. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle

Leaders at the Finnish National Agency for Education responded to questions about how schools are preparing to deal with an anticipated energy crisis this winter as well as the Covid situation.

A number of Ukrainian children will also be attending Finnish schools this fall.

Energy preps

Finland's schools have been instructed to prepare for the possibility of power outages due to anticipated energy shortages this winter.

Laura Francke, head of unit at the Finnish National Agency for Education, said the agency has produced material instructing schools on how to deal with power, heating, and data network disruptions.

"Schools should have plans in place in case of a power outage," Francke said, adding that energy-saving measures can also be teaching opportunities.

"Climate issues are really important for young people," she said.

In-person teaching

Francke said that all schools will resume this fall with in-classroom teaching, despite an anticipated uptick of coronavirus cases in Finland.

However, special teaching arrangements will still be in place for children belonging to risk groups.

Regular surface cleaning and good hand hygiene are still recommended despite no longer being required by law, she explained.

"They also help prevent other infections and are recommended as permanent measures by the Institute for Health and Welfare (THL)," she added.

Ukrainian children head to school

Francke said Ukrainian kids will mostly be attending basic and preparatory education classes, with only a few in early childhood education and upper-secondary education.

Regionally, the largest number of Ukrainians currently reside in Southwest Finland and Uusimaa.

"[School-age children in those areas] account for almost half of all Ukrainians starting school," she said.

Francke said it was not yet clear how many Ukrainian students were starting school this fall. The ministry's estimates were based on last spring's situation, when about 2,000 Ukrainian children attended Finnish schools.

While Ukrainians have the right to go to school in Finland, it is not compulsory, she noted.