Health security in schools and educational institutions during coronavirus pandemic
Picture: Sakari Manninen
Vantaa elementary schools, high schools, and Vantaa Vocational College Varia have begun the fall term in contact instruction. At the same time, the coronavirus situation has worsened in the metropolitan area. Schools and educational institutions have received many inquiries about how they are accounting for schoolchildren and students’ health security during the coronavirus pandemic. We have collected some of the answers in this bulletin.
All the City of Vantaa elementary schools and educational institutions apply the recommendations of the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) to arranging instruction during the coronavirus pandemic.
How do you account for health security in everyday school attendance?
Answer: Schools and educational institutions observe good hand hygiene and cough etiquette. We provide hand sanitizer. We encourage and remind students to wash their hands. Guardians should also stress the importance of handwashing at home, as well as advise their children to cough into their sleeve or handkerchief, away from others.
We strive to observe social distancing to the extent possible.
Can I come to school if I have mild sniffles or a slight temperature?
Answer: It is of the utmost importance that students do not come to school when sick. In other words: if you have even mild symptoms, stay at home to avoid infecting others.
Do I have to wear a mask, and who shall acquire the masks?
Answer: Elementary school students in grades 6-9 are recommended to wear a face mask. Students in high schools and in Vantaa Vocational College Varia are strongly recommended to wear a mask. Wearing a face mask is mandatory for faculty in elementary schools and upper secondary education (high schools and Varia).
Elementary schools offer face masks to the students and distribute them at school.
Face masks are free for students in extended compulsory education in high schools and Varia. These students will receive 4 face masks / day at the educational institution. Other students have to acquire their face masks themselves. If a student cannot afford to acquire face masks or has forgotten the face mask at home, they can fetch a face mask at a point designated by the educational institution.
How do you try to prevent infections on school premises?
Answer: Elementary schools try to limit the schools’ operations into smaller units by accounting for the schools’ premises. For more detailed information on school- and student-specific arrangements, contact your own school, or, in case of a student in upper secondary institution, the student's educational institution.
Elementary schools avoid having people other than the students and school employees staying on the schools’ premises during the school day. The same applies to high schools and to Varia.
Compliant with the current national recommendation, the City of Vantaa is also vaccinating 12 - 15-year-olds against coronavirus. Over-15-year-olds can still have the vaccine. The vaccines are voluntary and free of charge.
Will the school arrange joint events such as celebrations and PTA meetings?
Answer: Elementary schools will not arrange large-scale joint events on the spot, but classes/groups/cells can arrange events of their own. Likewise, high schools and Varia try to avoid arranging big live events.
Vantaa elementary schools can arrange excursions and camp schools in Finland while accounting for coronavirus precautions. Coronavirus precautions entail the same procedures that are applied to an ordinary school day, as well as avoiding large crowds or contacts with outside groups. This must also be accounted for when choosing excursion destinations. Use of public transportation is not possible, so we have to use charter buses for any potential transportation. We are actively monitoring the coronavirus situation, and we will change our instructions, when required.
If any guardians do not want that their child participates in excursions or in camp school, the students in question must be provided with program corresponding to school days at the school. There will be no excursions or camp schools abroad in the 2021 - 2022 school year.
If a student has been exposed to or has contracted coronavirus, how will their instruction be arranged?
Answer: Elementary school students be in distance learning for the duration of the quarantine. The student’s teacher will be in contact as regards the student’s tasks and other arrangements.
Students in high schools and in Varia will agree with their teachers on more specific instructional arrangements. Students can participate in classes by remote access or study independently.
Can a schoolchild/student come to contact instruction immediately after arriving from abroad?
Answer: Those who return from travel abroad shall observe the Government’s country-specific travel restrictions valid at any given time. Obligations compliant with the Communicable Diseases Act apply to everybody arriving in Finland.
Schools and educational institutions do not monitor, nor do they gain information about, their schoolchildren/students’ trips abroad. The responsibility to act according to recommendations and instructions remains with those returning from abroad and, in case of minors, with their guardians.
Your child’s school will give you more detailed information about school-specific arrangements. Correspondingly, students in high schools and in Varia, as well as their guardians, will get more detailed information from their own educational institutions.
We are carefully following the infection situation and will change the instructions, when required.