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Minister: Schools must contact parents if pupils skip remote lessons

Ministers discussed Finland’s arrangements for education provision during the coronavirus pandemic.

Hanna Kosonen ja Li Andersson hallituksen tilannekatsauksessa torstaina.
Education Minister Li Andersson (right) and Culture Minister Hanna Kosonen. Image: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva

Schools must make efforts to contact children if they can’t get hold of them while teachers are operating remote learning programmes to slow the spread of coronavirus, said Education Minister Li Andersson at a press conference on Thursday.

"If the situation is so serious that you can’t make contact with the pupil, the school has to act as though the child did not turn up to school," said Andersson. "As a last resort they should contact child protection services."

Andersson also said guidance was being prepared about assigning grades for pupils expected to finish basic schooling this academic year, to ensure they are able to progress to the next stage of their education.

Finland’s remote schooling regime will expand to allow some 3,000 pupils in prep classes to receive teaching in person before they enter regular classes.

The bulk of those 3,000 pupils are immigrant children whose native language is not Finnish or Swedish, and are learning one of the national languages in a special class before they enter mainstream schooling.

At the same press conference, Culture Minister Hanna Kosonen said that students in receipt of monthly student benefits should not be concerned if they are unable to complete the required number of credits to qualify for the payments.

"Students don’t need to worry about student benefits stopping because of coronavirus," said Kosonen.

This week Finland announced it would extend the changes in schooling until at least 13 May, as it fights to control the spread of novel coronavirus.

Those changes mean children in grades 1-3 can remain at school if necessary, along with those attending early-years education, but parents are urged to keep children home if they can.

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