Schools are going to reopen on May 14, according to the government’s decision on Wednesday, April 29.

Minister of Education Li Andersson (the Left Alliance) and Prime Minister Sanna Marin (the SDP) at the press conference on lifting school restrictions at a virtual press conference broadcast from the Government Palace on April 29, 2020. Picture: Lauri Heikkinen / The Finnish Government

The government’s decision is based on health authorities’ assessment; the restrictions to tackle the coronavirus spread are going to be lifted on early childhood education and care and those on primary and lower secondary education.

According to the government, contact teaching will resume on May 14 “in a controlled manner and with care for safety.” “There are no longer grounds for extending the Decree on the Application of the Emergency Powers Act concerning early childhood education and care and primary and lower secondary education,” the government says in their official statement.

“We shouldn’t restrict children’s civil rights more than necessary,” Li Andersson (the Left Alliance), said at the press conference.

Children not a source of infection

According to the epidemiological assessment, “the international and national experience show that the role of children in the dissemination of coronavirus infections is not similar to that of adults.” The prevailing opinion is that children are essentially not a source of infection. “Based on current information, the opening of schools will, therefore, be safe for both pupils and staff,” the government says.

The Ministry of Education and Culture and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare have drawn up guidelines and instructions on the arrangements for returning to early childhood education and care and to primary and lower secondary education.

Guidelines at school

According to the guidelines:

  • The most important thing is to avoid unnecessary physical contacts and arrange teaching premises more spaciously than usual.
  • School break times and school meals must also be held with the students’ own class or group.
  • Large gatherings, such as spring festivals, will not be organized. Personnel must also work with the same group of children and hygiene guidelines must be strictly respected.
  • Education providers will make decisions on more specific arrangements.

Doctors will assess whether risk groups may engage in contact teaching. In the case of employees, the assessment will be carried out together with a doctor and the employer.

Once the Decree on the Application of the Emergency Powers Act is no longer effective, education providers cannot organize teaching in the form of distance teaching.

Local authorities themselves cannot decide to close schools, nor can local authorities decide to organize teaching only in the form of distance teaching. The right to basic education is a subjective right laid down in the Constitution and belongs equally to everyone.

The government will discuss the restrictions on upper secondary education and higher education later.

Editorial Team