Distance learning continues and expands

In its meeting on 4 March 2021, the Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group decided that distance learning in secondary education will be continued in the region during the period of lockdown measures related to emergency conditions, until 28 March 2021. Distance learning has been going on uninterrupted since 3 December 2020. The decision on the continuation of distance learning is made by the education organisers, i.e. the municipalities and private education organisers. The coronavirus coordination group strongly recommends that also private education institutions arrange secondary education in distance learning mode on 8-28 March 2021.

In addition, the upper comprehensive schools of the region will move to distance learning until 28 March 2021 as of 8 March 2021. The decision on the closure of the school premises was made by the Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland, and the decisions on the arrangement of distance learning (exceptional teaching arrangements) are made by the municipalities and private organisers of comprehensive education. The decision on distance learning also concerns pupils in the 10th grade.

Indispensable needs for contact teaching will continue to be met. The school premises to be closed can still be used for the contact teaching of e.g. special-needs education, extended compulsory education and preparatory education pupils and other essential contact teaching.

The coronavirus coordination group is worried about the spread of the virus in its area and especially about the spread of a new virus variant among younger age groups. The purpose of moving to distance learning is to prevent the epidemic and new virus variant from spreading and reduce the risk of overburdening social and health care services. After the new end date, the temporary recommendations and restrictions will be extended further as needed.

Earlier restrictions and recommendations by the coronavirus coordination group that will mostly be valid until the end of March

The restrictions and recommendations imposed by the coronavirus coordination group regarding private events, the use of public premises and remote work will remain in place until 31 March 2021. The decision was made based on the prevalent epidemiological situation and overall assessment. In addition to the Cities of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa, the City of Kauniainen will also adhere to the restrictions and recommendations of the coordination group.

Actual maintenance of distances at public premises, temporary section 58(d) of Communicable Diseases Act

Private and public operators are obliged to arrange the use of premises that are open to the public or intended for a limited group of customers or participants in such a way that the customers, activity participants and groups can feasibly avoid close contact.Each operator may fulfil its obligations by restricting the number of customers, by rearranging the customer seats or facilities, or in another manner that considers the special characteristics of the operations. The decision applies to a wide range of private and public customer premises, with the exclusion of restaurants. If it is impossible to avoid contact, the customer premises can be completely closed by decision of the Regional State Administrative Agency or the municipality.

The restriction will be valid between 25 February and 14 March 2021. The decision was made by the Regional State Administrative Agency of Southern Finland.

Organising public events

All public events and meetings held indoors or outdoors have been prohibited for a limited time. However, organising public events and meetings of a maximum of 6 participants will be allowed, provided that safety can be ensured based on the instructions given by the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare on 21 September 2020. Events with at most 6 persons should be limited to the indispensable minimum, such as statutory shareholders’ meetings and association meetings. Remote connections must be used also in these cases whenever possible.

The restrictions will be valid between 22 February and 14 March 2021. The decision was made by the Regional State Administrative Agency of Southern Finland.

Organising private events

The coordination group continues to recommend that close contacts be limited to members of the same household or those considered as close as household members. Other kinds of private gatherings or meetings with extended family are not recommended under any circumstances. Guests at a funeral or memorial service should still be restricted to only a small group of close relatives.

The recommendation will be valid until 31 March 2021.

Public premises

All public customer spaces will remain closed throughout March with the exception of the guided recreational activity time slots reserved for children born in 2008 or later. This includes all municipal cultural centres, museums and youth facilities. Contact teaching at the adult education centres has been suspended in favour of distance learning in November.

The facilities used for providing health care and social services, early childhood education, comprehensive education and essential upper secondary education will remain open. Services such as the essential use of customer computers in libraries and the distribution of face masks to those in need will continue. The cities have defined the facilities offering essential services, which will be kept open to a limited extent and with due consideration to health and safety. Libraries will continue to offer limited services.

The coordination group continues to recommend that private operators similarly restrict the use of sports and leisure facilities.

The restrictions and recommendations will be valid until 31 March 2021.

Recreational activities

The indoor and outdoor premises of the cities can only be used for guided recreational activities of children born in 2008 or later. All forms of activities for children and young people must be implemented without close contacts.

The restriction will be valid until 31 March 2021.

Upper secondary education

Secondary education (upper secondary schools and vocational education institutions) will continue with distance learning arrangements. Indispensable needs for contact teaching will be met. For example, contact teaching will be provided to students with disabilities, students that are receiving special needs education and students who need individual support for various reasons.

Distance learning began at the start of the new evaluation period on 3 December 2020 and will continue until 28 March 2021.

Remote work

The coordination group still recommends employers to arrange all tasks remotely wherever possible, even temporarily. If remote work is impossible, the employer is recommended to instruct the employees to use face masks at all workspaces, even where it is possible to maintain safe distances. Workplace meals and coffee breaks must be staggered.

The recommendation will be valid until 31 March 2021.

The Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group prepares local decision-making

The Cities of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa, and the Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland established the metropolitan area coronavirus coordination group on 10 September 2020. In line with a regional operating model devised by Finland’s Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the group aims to strengthen the formation of a common situational assessment and to coordinate and prepare local and regional measures.

The group consists of top management from each member organisation and is responsible for the preparation and coordination of decision-making based on a shared assessment of the situation. Each member makes decisions independently, within its own sphere of authority. The group further intensifies the close metropolitan area collaboration that has continued throughout the coronavirus crisis. The City of Helsinki is responsible for organising the group’s operations.

In addition to the Cities of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa, the City of Kauniainen will also adhere to the restrictions and recommendations of the coordination group.

Read more vantaa.fi/coronavirus

Published: 5.3.2021 
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