Preschool education and early childhood education will continue their operations in day care and school premises on 14 May 2020
The early childhood education and preschool education of the City of Tampere will continue their operations in the day care and school premises from Thursday, 14 May 2020 in accordance with the Government’s policy.
The recommendation to stay at home or for distance learning is no longer valid after 14 May 2020. The arrangements for day care and preschool education in Tampere have been planned during the past couple of weeks so that the operations can continue safely and in a controlled manner in all units in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The activities supplementing the preschool education will also continue as usual under the observation of the safety guidelines.
The Government decided on 29 April 2020 to rescind the restrictions 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 that children are rarely the sources of infection. Based on the current knowledge, opening the operations is safe both for the children and the staff.
The Ministry of Education and Culture and the National 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 day care centres and schools in Tampere have been prepared. Each unit has adapted these instruction to fit their own day care centre and school premises.
The priority is to avoid unnecessary physical contacts and organise the spaces so that there are fewer pupils in them than normally. Outdoor activities will be taken in shifts, and meals will be arranged mainly with the group. Large gatherings, such as end-of-year festivities, will not be organised. Staff must operate with only one group of children and hygiene rules must be followed strictly. Groups of children will be kept separate throughout the day. There is no need to divide the groups; instead, additional space is made available through the organisation of spaces.
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 early childhood education or school.
If a child falls ill during the day, they 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 person by maintaining a sufficient distance. Persons 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 day care centre or school, 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 with coronavirus 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.
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.
A child may stay at home from early childhood education; a notification from the guardian is sufficient.
The return to contact teaching concerns all children in preschool. 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. The guardian will notify the school of the child’s absence. It is not necessary to deliver a medical certificate or statement confirming the absence; a notification from the guardian is sufficient.
Situations involving direct contact with other people must be avoided in day care centres and schools. Stickers and posters reminding staff and pupils about physical distance have been sent to schools and day care centres in Tampere.
If necessary, the units may determine the practices suitable for their situation and instruct the families to act accordingly in the lobbies, for example. It is prohibited for people other than pupils, children attending the day care centre and staff to spend time in the school or day care centre area.
In spite of the enhanced hygiene, it is important to make sure that the child gets the closeness, safety and interaction of an adult that they need just like before, as far as possible.
Large public gatherings will not be arranged in schools and day care centres and people will not gather in auditoriums. End-of-term festivities will also not be arranged as large public gatherings this year.
The restrictions on gatherings do not apply to school and day care activities. Rules concerning group sizes and staffing are valid as laid down in the legislation on early childhood education and basic education.
As a rule, staff members do not transfer between units to prevent infections from spreading. Staff gatherings should also be avoided at schools and day care centres; staff meetings will be arranged via remote communications, for example. The 10-person limit will be applied to meetings in the staff facilities.
In Tampere, meals at day care centres and schools will be arranged with the day care centre group or the school group or class in the classroom to ensure safe and controlled meals. The staff will bring the school meal to the classroom and take away afterwards. In day care centres, meals will be eaten in the child’s day care group. Good hygiene must be ensured when cooking, distributing and eating meals. Meals will not be served in the canteen for large groups at the same time. The canteen may, however, be used for different groups at different times.
Taking care of good hand hygiene and coughing and sneezing hygiene, toys may not be brought from home
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 or day care centre, before meals, whenever they come inside and before leaving school or day care. 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. Children use the hand sanitiser under adult supervision.
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 in day care centres and schools. 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 arm 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. All contact surfaces, such as door handles, armrests, tables, light switches and taps, are cleaned with sufficient frequency. The use of equipment in general use, such as keyboards, tablets or handicraft supplies, is to be avoided or they are to be cleaned always between users. Toys are kept in specific groups as far as possible and not moved between groups.
When playing outdoors, the risk of infection can be reduced by wearing gloves and washing hands immediately after the outdoor playtime. Furthermore, bringing toys from home to early childhood education is prohibited until further notice.
Questions about early childhood education and preschool education and further information: director of one’s own day care centre and the day care centre responsible for the child’s preschool education.
Text Johanna Toivanen