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Schools prepare for local coronavirus closures in autumn term

The coronavirus situation might mean local councils have to close down schools.

oppilaita ja liitutaulu
Koululaisia ja vanhempia on opastettu sähköisen Wilma-viestijärjestelmän kautta, ettei kouluun saa tulla sairaana. Jos oppilas alkaa oireilla koulupäivän aikana, siirretään hänet välittömästi erilliseen tilaan aikuisen valvonnassa odottamaan vanhempaansa. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle

The start of the school year next week means a return to contact teaching, but schools are preparing for a worsening of the coronavirus situation.

"We are starting the autumn in a situation where the coronavirus situation is calm, but the threat of the virus is not over," said Olli-Pekka Heinonen of the National Board of Education at a press conference on Tuesday.

Heinonen said there could be school closures in the autumn, as the coronavirus situation develops, but only if they are absolutely necessary to control the virus. Municipalities or the regional state development agencies could order school closures, said Heinonen.

The board also said it was preparing a report into remote learning experiences this spring, with problems in sourcing devices and a lack of study skills expected to feature.

Schools are waiting on new recommendations from THL on mask use and other precautions to be taken to keep schools safe during the pandemic.

The guidelines are expected this week, but some limiting factors on coronavirus transmission are already known.

"Schools have to take care to ensure they have enough space," said Anni Miettinen of the board. "Consideration can also be given to whether for example a rota of school dinner turns or even classroom time is possible."

Experts from the education agency emphasised that any gaps in learning that opened during the spring, when most students did remote learning, should be closed as quickly as possible.

Matriculation celebrations were impossible to organise in the spring, so many students have switched them to the autumn, and Petri Lehikoinen from the agency said that the end of August might be a good time for them.

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