Mask use recommendations tighten in capital region schools

All teachers and other staff are being encouraged to wear masks no matter what the ages of the students in their schools across Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kaunianen.

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Students at Kalasatama primary school get ready for outdoor play time, March 2019 / Credit: News Now Finland

The recommendations from authorities about using masks in capital region schools have tightened.

Public health experts now say all staff in Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kaunianen schools should be wearing masks which cover their nose and mouth while at work.

“In the metropolitan area, the coronavirus epidemic situation has been fairly stable in the last few weeks. However, in the last few days there have seen signs of an accelerating epidemic” the coronavirus coordination group for the capital city area says in a Monday statement.

Officials say that exposure to the virus in schools can be reduced if teachers and other staff wear face masks, which also helps prevent large numbers of absences of staff who might be quarantined over possible workplace exposures.

The individual cities will supply face masks – or face shields – to employees, but even before deliveries start to arrive at schools staff are being encouraged to wear masks already.

Face masks for students

Last week the education union OAJ called for more clarity on whether students should be wearing face masks in different education environments.

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL said they recommend during the accelerated phase of the coronavirus epidemic that face masks should be worn in secondary schools and colleges; but in regions where there’s a spreading phase, face masks are recommended for 13-14 year olds, and on school trips, as well.