Schools and daycare
Mask recommendation extended to the 6th grade of comprehensive school
The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) updated its face mask recommendation on Friday 8 January. It is now recommended that pupils in the 6th grade of comprehensive school wear a mask regardless of age. In comprehensive schools of the City of Helsinki, 6th graders should start wearing masks on Wednesday 13 January.
We strongly recommend that pupils wear a face mask if they do not have a health condition that makes wearing a mask difficult. Before this, the mask recommendation had been applied to students and staff in grades 7–9, upper secondary schools and vocational schools.
Wearing a mask reduces infection rates and exposure. This allows us all to protect each other. The City of Helsinki will purchase masks for pupils for the school day, and the masks will be distributed in schools. Teachers will instruct pupils on how to wear the mask correctly. Pupils can also wear their own masks. The recommendation will remain valid until further notice.
We also recommend wearing a face mask in your free time, such as during hobbies and when using public transport. The City will not fund the masks used in free time, but masks are readily available, and Helsinki also has mask distribution points for people in need.
The teaching arrangements will also continue to adhere to the other safety instructions and recommendations. It remains vital that everyone keeps a safe distance from others whenever possible, washes their hands, coughs into their sleeve or a disposable tissue, and avoids touching their face. If they have any symptoms, both children and adults must book a coronavirus test immediately. Coronavirus testing arranged by the City is free of charge. You can get an appointment quickly and receive the results in 1–2 days. You can find more information about the City’s coronavirus testing online.
We further encourage all pupils in comprehensive school and their guardians to start using the Koronavilkku app published by THL. Through the app, any instances of exposure are easier to trace, and the spread of the virus can be prevented. You can find more information at koronavilkku.fi/en/
THL has compiled information
and instructions on face masks on its website
Upper secondary schools (general upper secondary schools and vocational education) have transferred to distance learning as of 3 December 2020. These learning institutions will still provide face-to-face instruction that is deemed essential. For example, contact teaching will be offered to students with disabilities that are receiving special needs education and to students who need individual support for various reasons. Distance learning will continue at these schools until 31 January 2021.
A mask recommendation has been issued for the area’s lower secondary schools (grades 6-9). The cities will provide masks for this purpose, but students are also free to use their own.
Daycare centres and pre-primary education are still open, with due regard for the necessary safety measures. Daycare centre staff are encouraged to wear masks indoors whenever possible. Early childhood education employees who travel to several locations in their work, for example, daycare assistants, replacements, directors, trainees and interns are in particular asked to observe this mask recommendation. Parents and guardians of children in daycare and pre-primary education are asked to wear masks when they pick up and drop off their children and limit the time they spend indoors.
- Helsinki takes coronavirus infections at daycare centres and schools seriously (29 November)
- New restrictions and recommendations set by the Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group (27 November)
- Helsinki Metropolitan Area declares community transmission phase, introduces tighter recommendations and restrictions (20 November)
Education Helpline re-opened in Helsinki
The City of Helsinki has also re-opened its Education Helpline to answer questions about schools, students and study arrangements. Service is available in Finnish and English. Ring tel. 09 310 10025 Monday-Friday 9-17.
Comprehensive schools continue in face-to-face classroom instruction
Primary and lower secondary schools continue in face-to-face classroom instruction, but with careful consideration for keeping safe distances and limiting close contact. Good hand and respiratory hygiene is also being emphasized. Young people in lower secondary school (grades 7-9) have been asked to wear face masks at school.
Hybrid teaching alternatives possible, if necessary
On 10 August 2020, Helsinki's City Board decided to allow exceptional teaching arrangements, if it proves necessary to ensure the safe use of basic education facilities run by the city. If a worsening coronavirus situation prompts the introduction of hybrid teaching, teaching will nevertheless continue in classrooms for children in grades 1-3 and students with special needs. Normal face-to-face classroom instruction will also continue for students attending preparatory education or extended compulsory education.
Helsinki shares guidelines for coronavirus testing of children
The Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare (THL) released guidelines on what to do if a child becomes ill with a respiratory tract infection. Among other things, the guidelines explain when it is appropriate to bring a child to a coronavirus test and when it is okay for children to return to schools and daycares. The City of Helsinki will adhere to the new THL instructions. It has informed parents and guardians of Helsinki students of the guidelines. The new guidelines for coronavirus testing of children can be found at the THL website
Helsinki postpones Mayor’s Independence Day Reception for fourth graders
The annual mayor-hosted Independence Day celebration for fourth graders in Helsinki has been moved to the spring of 2021 because of the coronavirus situation. Under normal circumstances, the reception would have taken place on Thursday, 3 December in Finlandia Hall. Helsinki postpones Mayor's Indepencence Day Reception for fourth graders
No infection increase during brief school reopening last spring
Helsinki's municipal schools closed down in mid-March 2020 and almost all of the over 40,000 students in city's schools switched to distance learning. As coronavirus infection rates slowed, a decision was made to return to the classrooms on 14 May for two and a half weeks of contact teaching before the summer holidays.
Coronavirus infections were identified in eight schools across Helsinki during this time, with all but one of the infections originating from outside the school. Overall, it was determined that the reopening of schools did not cause an increase in the number of infections in Helsinki.