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Tampere returns to contact teaching gradually from 14 May 2020

Published 12.5.2020 8.52

In line with government policy, basic education in Tampere will return to contact teaching from Thursday 14 May 2020. Parties organising teaching in Tampere have planned staff and other arrangements so that contact teaching can be implemented in a controlled and safe manner.

Aapinen pulpetilla.

The Government decided on 29 April 2020 to rescind the restrictions placed on early childhood education and basic education according to the assessment of the health authorities since there were no longer grounds for continuing the enforcement of the implementing regulation of the Emergency Powers Act concerning early childhood education and basic education on the basis of the epidemiological assessment. The government policy states that experiences in Finland and abroad have demonstrated that the role of children in spreading the coronavirus infection differs from that of adults and children are rarely the sources of infection. According to current knowledge, the reopening of schools is therefore safe for both pupils and staff.

The Ministry of Education and Culture and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare have prepared instructions for the arrangements under which it is possible to return to early childhood education and basic education. On the basis of these instructions, more detailed instructions concerning schools in Tampere have been prepared. Each school has adapted these instruction to fit their own school premises. Principals will communicate the instructions to guardians on Friday 8 May.

The priority is to avoid unnecessary physical contacts and organise teaching spaces so that there are fewer pupils in the spaces than normally. Breaks will be taken in shifts and school meals will be arranged with pupils’ own class or group. Large gatherings, such as end-of-year festivities, will not be organised. Furthermore, staff must operate with only one group of children and hygiene rules must be followed strictly.

Children’s right to basic education is a subjective right laid down in the Constitution of Finland, which concerns everyone equally. Therefore, the return to contact teaching concerns all children. A doctor will assess whether a member of the risk group can participate in contact teaching. The guardian is responsible for deciding on the child’s school attendance, which means that there is no need to deliver a statement from the health care confirming the absence to the school. Normal rules on absence are in place, in other words, the guardian must inform the school if the child will not attend teaching.

Education and Learning Director Kristiina Järvelä says that discussions on the experiences related to the distance learning period and operating methods deviating from the normal schoolwork will be conducted together with the pupils of all schools once pupils return from remote teaching to contact teaching.

“It is important to survey the status of the skills of all pupils before the end of the term. We will also assess the need for learning and school attendance support as well as the needs for pupil welfare work so that children can feel safe when starting the summer holiday," says Järvelä.

Children must not attend school or early childhood education when ill

The coronavirus causes a respiratory tract infection that includes symptoms such as a cough, sore throat, fever, shortness of breath, muscle pain, stomach symptoms and headache. Children and adults with any signs of symptoms must not come to school or early childhood education.

If a child falls ill during the day, the symptomatic child will be immediately transferred to a separate space under adult supervision to wait for the parents. The adult will avoid close contact with the infected by maintaining a sufficient distance. Children and adults with symptoms must contact their own health centre and have themselves tested for the coronavirus in accordance with the instructions provided by the health centre.

If a coronavirus infection is diagnosed in a school or day care centre, possible exposure to coronavirus will be surveyed. Exposed people will be tracked and quarantined for 14 days. Infectious disease doctors are responsible for identifying exposed people and infection chains. A person who has become infected must stay out of school or early childhood education for at least seven days from the start of the symptoms, or longer, if necessary, so that there are at least two asymptomatic days before the return to school or early childhood education.

A doctor will assess the attendance in contact teaching of a person belonging to a risk group

Children rarely develop a severe coronavirus disease. Furthermore, the risk of developing a severe disease has not increased among children and young people whose long-term condition is in good therapeutic equilibrium. Children whose long-term condition causes an increased risk of severe infections in general belong to the risk group of the severe coronavirus disease. The doctor treating the long-term condition assesses whether the child belonging to the risk group can attend contact teaching. If a family member of a child belongs to the risk group, the doctor treating the long-term condition of the family member will assess whether the child can return to school. For school staff members, a health care professional will assess whether a person belongs to a risk group.

It is not necessary to deliver a medical certificate or statement confirming the absence to the school; a notification from the guardian is sufficient. This also applies if a family member belongs to a risk group and the situation requires the child to stay at home. In this case, the guardian must report the child’s absence to the school and the school will deal with the matter. There is no time to implement new exceptional teaching arrangements during this term, but it is possible to give written assignments to the pupil.

Unnecessary physical contacts will be avoided in schools

School operations do not constitute a public meeting or event in accordance with the Assembly Act, which means that school operations are not subject to any restrictions on gatherings. Rules concerning group sizes and staffing are valid as laid down in the legislation on early childhood education and basic education. However, situations involving direct contact with other people must be avoided in schools. Stickers and posters reminding staff and pupils about physical distance have been sent to schools in Tampere.

Large public gatherings will not be arranged in schools and people will not gather in auditoriums. End-of-term festivities will also not be arranged as large public gatherings this year. It is prohibited for people other than pupils and school staff to spend time in the school area.

Staff gatherings should also be avoided; teacher meetings will be arranged via remote communications, for example. The 10-person limit will be applied to meetings in the staff facilities.

Class teachers are responsible for the teaching of grades 1–6 during the entire contact teaching. Pupils in grades 7–9 advance according to their own class schedule. Pupils will mainly remain in their own teaching spaces and the teacher will move between spaces. Optional subjects of secondary schools will be implemented flexibly according to the school’s own plan. Breaks will be taken in shifts according to the school’s own plan.

In Tampere, school meals will be arranged with the class or group to ensure safe and controlled meals. The staff will bring the school meal to the classroom and take away afterwards. Good hygiene is ensured when cooking, distributing and eating meals.

In order to ensure sufficient safe distances, outdoor locations are utilised in teaching in all schools. Schools are instructed that at least two grades are taught in outdoor locations every day. Spaces that are currently empty, such as spaces of Tredu, general upper secondary education, sports services, the Varala Sports Institute and the Kauppi Sports Center, will also be utilised in addition to the normal basic education spaces.

Taking care of good hand hygiene and coughing and sneezing hygiene

It is important to take of good hand hygiene to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Pupils and adults must wash their hands always when they come to school, before meals, whenever they com inside and before leaving school. Hands must be dried with a disposable paper towel. If it is not possible to wash hands with water and soap, hand sanitiser must be used.

The coronavirus is primarily transmitted via droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, which means that it is important to pay attention to good coughing and sneezing hygiene. A disposable handkerchief must be used to cover the nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing. The handkerchief must be thrown away immediately after use. If a handkerchief is not available, the nose and mouth must be covered with the sleeve at the elbow. After this, hands must be washed. Wearing a mask in schools and early childhood education is not recommended.

According to the information currently available, coronaviruses cannot survive in the air or on surfaces for a long time and infections transmitted by touching an object have not been discovered.The cleaning instructions of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health are followed when cleaning the schools. All contact surfaces, such as door handles, armrests, school desks and tables, light switches and taps, are cleaned with sufficient frequency. The use of equipment in general use, such as keyboards, tablets and handicraft supplies, is to be avoided or they are to be cleaned always between users.

School transportation is organised as usual and morning and afternoon activities are organised mainly outdoors

School transportation is organised as usual according to the number of pupils attending school. Guardians must report exceptions directly to the school transportation as normal.

The morning and afternoon activities of young schoolchildren are organised mainly outdoors in the smallest possible groups. Shared equipment and tools will not be used.

Questions about early childhood education and basic education and further information: the principal of the school and director of own day care centre.