The 10,000-resident municipality of Huittinen in western Finland has closed all of its local schools, advising that students switch to distance learning, due to the novel coronavirus outbreak in Finland.
Starting from Monday, 16 March, all primary, upper comprehensive and upper secondary schools will provide distance education and students will study at home. The closures will last for two weeks initially, but officials say they are prepared to continue it, if needed.
So far, Huittinen is the only municipality known to have closed all schools because of the outbreak. City officials justified the measure by saying that they were aiming to prevent the spread of the disease in the city.
The city said that school closures have proven to be an effective measure to prevent and slow the spread of the virus.
The measure will not affect early years education programmes or pre-school groups, which will continue to operate normally.
Teachers to provide remote support
The municipality informed parents and guardians of the decision on Sunday. Students had already been advised to take all of their school materials home with them on Friday.
Teachers will use the national school management and system Wilma to provide students with guidance and class teachers will be in close contact with students daily.
Upper comprehensive school teachers will support students via other digital platforms as well as by phone.
Students at the Lauttakylä upper secondary school will complete their matriculation exams according to the guidelines provided by the Matriculation Examination Board.