Child kicking a football.

Opening schools did not increase the number of infections in Helsinki

Schools switched to contact teaching on 14 May. There was about two and a half weeks of contact teaching before the schools’ summer holidays. During this time, coronavirus infections were discovered in eight schools across Helsinki. All but one of the infections originated from outside the school.

After the schools opened, infections occurred in nine pupils and two staff members. A total of 144 pupils and 23 staff members were exposed in the schools during the contact teaching period. The schools of the City of Helsinki have 44,260 pupils and 4,602 employees. When you also take into account private and state schools, Helsinki has almost 54 000 comprehensive school pupils.

The majority of those exposed have already ended their quarantine, but the situation of some of the exposed people will still be monitored for another week or so.

Almost all infections originated from within the family. Only one pupil was probably infected at school, and even that took place in small group classes before the schools opened.

Close contact was successfully avoided at school

The schools’ practices, such as working in small groups or only within one’s own class and avoiding close contact during meals and in corridors, effectively limited the number of people exposed during the contact teaching period.

‘The staff at our schools did an excellent job of arranging contact teaching in such a way that close contact between pupils was kept to a minimum. People also did not come to school if they had any symptoms, which helped in the situation,’ says Liisa Pohjolainen, Executive Director of the Education Division.

‘In order to be able to effectively limit the spread of the coronavirus in the future as well, it is important to seek coronavirus testing immediately after the appearance of the first, even mild, symptoms,’ says Timo Lukkarinen, Medical Director of Health Stations.

Based on discussions with families, it is recommended that the testing be sought even faster. Now that there is plenty of testing capacity available and more testing points are opened it is fast and easy to get tested.

Picture: Marja Väänänen.