Education Minister Li Andersson outlines new back to school rules

Contact teaching returns on Thursday 14th May after students have had weeks of distance learning.

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File picture of Education Minister Li Andersson (Left) at Helsinki briefing on 12th May 2020 / Credit: Lauri Heikkinen, VNK

Education Minister Li Andersson (Left) says the government is preparing an amendment to the Basic Education Act which would make it easier to switch between distance education and normal classroom contact teaching in the autumn, if it was required by the coronavirus pandemic.

Andersson made the comments at a Tuesday morning briefing where she was joined by the Director General of the National Board of Education Olli-Pekka Heinonen and Paediatric Infectious Diseases Specialist Dr Otto Helve to outline new rules when students return to school on 14th May.

Schools and local municipalities will make their own decisions about how to follow the new instructions, but in general they include increased hand hygiene; keeping teaching groups as separate as possible; not holding any joined events between classes; looking at measures for distancing in teaching spaces; staggering school transport, meals and break times to try and maintain space between pupils.

While all students are expected to return to class, Heinonen says parents can apply for exemptions based on medical grounds for example.

Helve noted that there have been 300 confirmed cases of coronavirus in children under 16, but that the virus appears to infect children much less than flue and the role of children in spreading the virus is smaller than adults.