Schools and daycare
Helsinki shifts to safe alternating contact teaching in upper secondary education
Upper secondary education in the region will transfer to limited contact teaching on 1 March 2021. Limited contact teaching in general upper secondary schools will mean that no more than half of first-year and second-year students may attend classroom instruction at one time.
In other words, groups will alternate between distance and contact teaching. Group sizes will be regulated to ensure that students can maintain a safe distance from others.
All general upper secondary school students who are participating in this spring’s matriculation exams will however switch to distance learning on 1 March 2021 to ensure the safety of the actual testing situation.
The region’s vocational education and training institutions will transfer to a teaching arrangement in which only one-third of the learning communities’ or location’s students attend in-person instruction at a time, to ensure social distancing. This smaller ratio is due to the wider age range among vocational education students.
The matriculation examination is organised with exceptional arrangements
The matriculation examination for the spring 2021 starts 16 March. Students who participate in the matriculation examination will switch to distance teaching from March to minimise the risk of exposure to the coronavirus. 3,800 students from Helsinki City’s upper secondary schools will participate in the matriculation examination. The matriculation examination starts traditionally, with the mother tongue exam.
Students who participate in the matriculation examination and their guardians will receive practical instructions via Wilma when the examinations are approaching. Read more »
Upper secondary education continues in distance learning
Secondary education (upper secondary schools and vocational education institutions) will continue with distance learning arrangements. Essential contact teaching needs will be met. For example, contact teaching will be provided to students with disabilities that are receiving special needs education and to students who need individual support for various reasons.
Distance learning began at the start of the new evaluation period on 3 December 2020, and will continue at least until 28 February 2021.
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.
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. Upper secondary school students preparing for matriculation exams will be given the option to attend preparatory classes in person between 18 January and the end of the third evaluation period.
In spring 2021, the traditional lorry parade of graduating upper secondary school students (known in Finnish as penkkarit) will be moved online, and the formal dance for second-year students to celebrate their becoming the oldest students in the school (known colloquially as Vanhat) will be postponed until later in spring. Students hoping to graduate in the spring will however be encouraged to participate in a shared virtual lorry parade day on 11 February, by contributing videos, for example.
These decisions are intended to help prevent possible exposures, infections and quarantines that could jeopardise this spring’s matriculation examinations, which are scheduled to begin on 16 March.
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