Finland says the coronavirus crisis is largely under control, paving the way for primary and lower secondary schools to reopen on 14 May after two months of remote learning. While some kids have flourished at home, officials have repeatedly pointed to the social cost of keeping vulnerable children out of school.
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The government's decision is drawing mixed reactions from educators, including teacher trade union OAJ, which called the move a "human experiment."
"On the one hand teachers want to see students and get back to some form of normalcy. But the fact that it's only for 11 days--for many people--it doesn't make a lot of sense," one Helsinki-based teacher told APN. "Teachers themselves feel quite exposed...they don't want to get sick. I think people sometimes forget we are first-line workers and we also have children at home to take care of."
To mask or not to mask?
The government has said it doesn't plan on supplying face masks to schools.
"THL and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health don’t give any recommendations for using these masks in public spaces. We are not inventing this ourselves--we are looking at WHO (World Health Organization) and ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control) guidelines and recommendations which are pretty much in line with what we are saying," Jussi Sane, a specialist at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), told APN.
We asked why the authorities haven't provided taxi drivers transporting people under quarantine with gloves or masks. Yle News learned that the government has paid for some 4,500 taxi rides for people arriving at Finnish ports and airports, but it hasn't given personal protection equipment for drivers or passengers.
The show also explored immigration conundrums in the time of corona and social distancing rules as Finland kicks off its summer season with Vappu, albeit a virtual one this year.
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Egan Richardson and Zena Iovino presented this week's show which was produced by Mark B. Odom. Our audio engineer was Anders Johansson.