Early childhood and comprehensive school education (pre-K to grade 9) will resume in classrooms on Thursday, 14 May, in accordance with a recent decision from the Finnish government. The city’s upper secondary schools and vocational education institutions (grades 10-12) will continue distance learning until the end of the academic year.
The majority of students will return to their classrooms on Thursday, 14 May in Helsinki. School rectors will decide independently on the timetable for the rest of the term, and each school will provide further details and instructions as to the attending practical arrangements. Resumed school activities will comply with the latest instructions from the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare.
“I would like to thank the parents, guardians, pupils and personnel of our schools at this stage for a distance learning interval that turned out to be a success, despite its hasty implementation. Moving forward, we will do our best to organise safe and smooth classroom teaching in the midst of these exceptional circumstances. Several new measures will be introduced, and we will adapt to them all together,” says Liisa Pohjolainen, Head of the City of Helsinki’s Education Division.
Instruction during the last weeks of the term will focus on the well-being of the students and the school community. Necessary support measures that may have become apparent during the distance learning period will also be clarified, in preparation for the autumn term.
Safety will be enhanced by keeping pupils at a safe distance from others. Some groups may meet in other premises inside and outside the school grounds, in order to safeguard everyone’s ability to spread out accordingly.
Teaching hours might be staggered, with various groups starting and ending at different times. Classes will be kept separate, with instructors staying with one group as much as possible throughout the day, instead of moving between groups.
Afternoon activities for schoolchildren will also start again on May 14. These activities will mainly be organised outdoors, and the children will enjoy their snacks at different times in small groups. Fees for the month of May will be discounted by 50% for families who use the service between 14 and 29 May.
Persons other than the students and school personnel should avoid moving about the school area. If need be, guardians may accompany their child to the schoolyard, however.
School lunches will be eaten in individual classrooms or in the school cafeteria, with regard for maintaining safe distances. Proper hygiene will be upheld at all times during the preparation and distribution of food, as well as during meal times.
School leaving certificates this year will evaluate the students’ skills and knowledge from the entire academic year. Most of the academic year consisted of normal classroom instruction, so no changes will be made to the evaluation process because of the exceptional circumstances. The final grade 9 evaluation is not based on solely this spring’s performance, as it is an overall assessment of the students’ knowledge and skills.
“Our schoolwork will end on Saturday, 30 May, but unfortunately we will not be able to organise traditional end-of-the-school-year ceremonies. Individual classes may arrange spring parties of their own, if they wish,” says Pohjolainen.
Distance learning continues in upper secondary schools, vocational education, and other learning institutionsAccording to government guidelines, distance learning will continue in universities, universities of applied sciences, upper secondary schools, vocational education institutions, liberal adult education institutions and adult basic education institutions until the end of the term. The City of Helsinki’s upper secondary schools and other learning institutions will continue distance learning until the end of May. Students may be required to visit the schools for instruction, guidance or other purposes, if it is deemed necessary.
End-of-term ceremonies will be organised virtually, due to restrictions on large gatherings. Matriculation ceremonies for upper secondary school graduates in Helsinki will be organised in the autumn, on 29 August for those attending regular upper secondary schools and on 28 August for students of International Baccalaureate (IB) and adult upper secondary schools. If the graduation ceremonies cannot be held safely in August, the spring 2020 graduates may be invited to join graduation ceremonies in early December.
The Helsinki Vocational College will also continue distance learning until the end of May, and students will be provided with the necessary tools. Arrangements for graduating students’ instruction and qualifications testing may be carried out in the school premises or yards, in line with prevailing safety regulations. Due to the restrictions on large gatherings, the graduation ceremony will be organised virtually on 5 June at 10 am. More information on the ceremony will be provided to graduating students and school personnel in mid-May.
School arrangements FAQ
Read more: Coronavirus updates from Helsinki
Photo: Sami Heiskanen
Published 8.5. and updated 12 and 13 May.