The omicron variant is spreading faster than previous variants of the coronavirus, and the virus can currently be contracted practically anywhere. Infection tracking is no longer an effective method of restricting the pandemic. As such, Helsinki and 11 other municipalities decided on 10 January 2022 that people exposed to the coronavirus at educational institutions, schools and daycare centres will no longer be regularly tracked or quarantined. Tracking measures will focus on infections among risk groups and in the social welfare and health care sector.
Children and young people primarily contract COVID-19 with only mild symptoms. If a child or young person has mild respiratory symptoms, such as a cough, runny nose, or fever, they must stay home. Once their symptoms have ended or clearly subsided and they have been feeling better for a few days, they can return to their educational institution, school or daycare centre. Taking a coronavirus test is not necessary. Any asymptomatic family members can go to work if remote working is not possible, while any asymptomatic children and young people can attend their early childhood education and care, school and studies. However, all unnecessary contact must be avoided.
However, we all must act responsibly in this situation and avoid any unnecessary meetings, visits and gatherings in order to protect people close to us and alleviate the burden on hospitals. Vaccinations provide good protection against a severe form of the disease.
As regards schools and educational institutions, partial distance education may become necessary for some classes if many people contract COVID-19 or another disease, such as the seasonal influenza.
Health security measures will remain in place in early childhood education and care, basic education and upper secondary education. Furthermore, combining groups will be avoided and mask recommendations will be adhered to at schools in grades 3 and above. Staff members will wear masks at all educational levels, including early childhood education and care.
As the situation has changed, potential exposures will no longer be reported in a centralised manner in early childhood education and care, at schools and at educational institutions. If there are particularly many known cases of infection, a supervisor of the school, daycare centre or educational institution may communicate about the coronavirus at the general level.
Photo: Marja Väänänen