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Thursday's papers: Back to school poll, Stockholm Finns' fears, and mask advice

As kids go back to school and businesses reopen, an expert offers advice on mask-wearing.

Vuokko Hartikainen ompelemassa kasvosuojainta
Polyester is better than cotton for fabric face masks, according to Finnish experts. Image: Matias Väänänen / Yle

Helsingin Sanomat's lead story on Thursday morning is the reopening of schools for contact learning, with a feature on Espoo parents and a poll of returning pupils.

The poll was answered by some 50,000 pupils in grades 1-9, and offered a picture of how they have found life away from the classroom.

Finland ordered the vast majority of lessons to be delivered via remote learning from mid-March, before announcing two weeks ago that children could return to school from 14 May until summer break, at the end of the month.

The experience of mass remote education has been positive for many children, according to the survey, with those suffering from bullying particularly enjoying the change: the survey suggests that bullying dropped to a fraction of former levels during the period of remote learning.

While almost all children have enjoyed sleeping longer in the mornings, there are downsides particularly in families where alcohol abuse is an issue.

Overall one in five respondents said they felt anxious about the situation, rising to 32 percent among those who had no contact with a teacher.

Sweden's Finns fear coronavirus

Ilta-Sanomat has a piece on the coronavirus epidemic in Sweden, focusing on the situation among the country's significant Finnish community.

In past decades hundreds of thousands of people migrated from Finland to Sweden, and now many of them are of retirement age.

That puts them among coronavirus risk groups, and early in the epidemic Swedish authorities had said that Finnish-speakers had been hit harder than others.

Authorities now decline to give information about the background of victims, with many local authorities also refusing to say how many people in care homes have died, according to IS.

IS reports that Sundbyberg, a Stockholm district home to many Finnish-background people, has one of the highest rates of coronavirus fatalities in the city.

Solna, another Stockholm neighbourhood with many Finns, is also home to a care home now subject to a police investigation after at least 35 people died there of Covid-19.

Mask use advice

With Finnair now recommending staff and passengers to wear face masks, and many other businesses weighing up their own guidelines on mask use, face coverings are on the agenda.

The government has asked a working group to draw up a report on mask usage, but has not yet said people should use them in public transport or elsewhere.

Kauppalehti asks Ali Harlin, an expert at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland how people should use masks, if they are going to use them, and finds that it is not as simple as all that.

Firstly, people should change the mask every time they take it off. Given that people drink several times a day, that multiplies the number of masks people need to use.

In addition, Harlin says polyester is a better material to make fabric masks than cotton, as it is more water-resistant.

Government guidelines on mask-wearing are expected by early June.

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