Up-to-date information about coronavirus preparedness at schools and day care centres

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2020-03-17 18:04

We get a lot of questions about our early childhood education and teaching arrangements. This news article includes answers to frequently asked questions and up-to-date information about day care centres and schools. Updated on 27 May at 10:13.

Schools and early childhood education units open as of 14 May in line with the Government’s decision

Schools and early childhood education units will be open as of 14 May in line with the Government’s decision. Distance education will mainly continue in comprehensive schools until 13 May and, based on our current knowledge, distance education will continue after this date in upper secondary schools. Day care centres are open. 

Children can return to day care centres as of 14 May

Day care centres and pre-primary education units located within day care centres are open. 

We may combine some units

Some units may have no or very few children at the moment. For this reason, the activities of some units will be transferred to another nearby unit. We will always minimise the risk of infections and ensure that group sizes are small.

As more children return to early childhood education, we will open the units that have been closed and these groups can return to their own premises.

The day care centres will inform the guardians of all these arrangements.

Open early childhood education

All open day care centres and clubs are closed. They will restart their operations as of 13 August.

Residents’ parks (excluding Järvenperä in Espoon keskus) will reopen on 1 June 2020. Parks will be open on weekdays from 8am to 4pm. You must not visit parks when ill.

Outdoors only – take your own outdoor toys with you

Only outdoor facilities are open. Remember to keep the necessary safety distances. This is why activities such as playing in the water or barbecuing are not possible this summer.

The indoor facilities of residents’ parks will remain closed. However, you may use the toilet facilities when needed, but in this case too the safety distance of 2m and good coughing and hand hygiene must be observed.

The toy storages in residents’ parks will remain closed for the time being. So please take your own outdoor toys with you.

No more than 50 people in a park at any one time

The aim is to limit the number of people in the parks to a maximum of 50 persons (children, guardians and staff) at any one time. Gatherings and assemblies must be avoided. The staff will monitor the number of people in the parks, but the responsibility for the safe use of residents’ parks is also with customers.

A red mark at the gate to any residents’ park indicates when the park has temporarily reached its maximum capacity.

Will we receive reimbursement for early childhood education fees?

The City of Espoo will not charge any fees for municipal and outsourced early childhood education during the period between 18 March and 13 May 2020 for those days when the child did not attend early childhood education. If the child is going to be absent, their guardian must inform the early childhood education unit as soon as possible, no later than by 9:00 in the morning of the day of absence. You do not have to provide a reason for the child’s absence during this period. The city will charge a fee if a child is absent without notification.

Starting from 14 May 2020, early childhood education fees will be invoiced as usual.

Temporary changes to the principles concerning the guarantee of an early childhood education place

The principles concerning the guarantee of an early childhood education place have been temporarily changed for the period between 18 March and 13 May 2020. This allows guardians to retroactively interrupt their child’s early childhood education under a guarantee agreement for a minimum of one month starting from 18 March 2020. Guardians can temporarily interrupt their child’s early childhood education, and the City of Espoo will offer these children an opportunity to return to the same day care centre or, if possible, to family day care.

Guardians will need to conclude a written agreement on the care place guarantee with the director of the early childhood education unit. Guardians with a child under 3 years of age can apply for child home care allowance during the guarantee period.

Starting from 14 May 2020, the normal terms and conditions concerning the care place guarantee will apply.

Comprehensive schools return to contact teaching as of 14 May

All pupils attending basic education will return to school on 14 May 2020. After this date, municipalities will not be able to provide distance education for pupils in basic education.

Why are Espoo-based schools returning to contact teaching?

On 29 April, the Government decided to lift the restrictions on early childhood education and schools. Contact teaching will continue in comprehensive schools on 14 May 2020. After this date, municipalities will not be able to provide distance education for pupils in basic education.

How will schools ensure that there is enough space to keep safe distances?

Our schools will use their own premises and additional facilities provided by upper secondary schools, youth spaces, libraries and Omnia. A total of 4,000 pupils will study in these additional facilities that are located near their schools.

Will my child’s schedule change?

Schools will stagger lessons between 8:00 and 16:00 whenever possible. The school will inform you if your child’s schedule is going to change.

My child is slightly ill. Should they stay at home?

If a pupil is ill or has any symptoms of illness, they should not go to school.

More detailed instructions on the city’s website at espoo.fi/coronavirus.

What are the rules concerning pupils’ absences?

Remember to apply for permission for absence. The process of applying and the grounds on which permissions are granted are the same as before.

Can pupils who belong to risk groups go back to school?

If a child belongs to a risk group, a doctor will assess whether they can go back to school. 

Why do we need to keep checking our Wilma messages?

Teachers use Wilma messages to send information about teaching arrangements to pupils and their guardians. If you have problems with Wilma, please contact your child’s school. You can log into Wilma at https://wilma.espoo.fi/.

How have schools organised pupil welfare services?

Pupil welfare services are still available to all children and young people in Espoo. You can book a telephone or remote appointment or a face-to-face appointment for an individual pupil. You can find the contact details of the school psychologist and school welfare officer on the school’s website (espoo.fi/schoolname).

Is lunch available at school?

Pupils who attend contact teaching will be served lunch at school together with their class or group, not in the dining hall at the same time as the rest of the school. However, groups may take turns to use the dining hall at school. Our staff will take care of hygiene during the making and serving of food and while pupils eat lunch.

Are lunch packages still available?

Lunch packages will be available to upper secondary school students until the end of the spring semester because they will continue to study from home. Children attending pre-primary and basic education will be served lunch at school as of 14 May.

Will there be afternoon activities at school?

Afternoon activities and morning and afternoon care will be available as of 14 May. If your child is not going to attend afternoon activities, please inform the organiser.

Upper secondary school students will study from home until the end of the semester

The upper secondary schools in Espoo have provided distance education as of 16 March and will continue to do so until the end of the spring semester.

Will there be spring celebrations or graduation ceremonies?

The City of Espoo and Tapiola Sinfonietta will hold a virtual spring celebration that you can watch on the Kotona247 website on 30 May. Schools may also have their own remote spring celebrations and groups can celebrate the end of the semester at school.

Due to the current restrictions, schools will not be able to hold their usual spring celebrations or graduation ceremonies. Upper secondary schools will have joint celebrations on 29 August 2020. This spring, the schools will only have virtual celebrations. Each upper secondary school will inform their students of its celebrations.

Who can order a pupil or a staff member into quarantine?

Decisions on quarantines are made by the infectious disease physician of the City of Espoo in line with the instructions of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) and the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS).

If a child or a young person is ordered into quarantine, the Infectious Disease Unit of the City of Espoo will contact the guardians. If one or several school classes or early childhood education groups are ordered into quarantine, the guardians of every child in that school or day care centre and the personnel will be informed.

Pre-primary education and early childhood education will not be provided for the children who are in quarantine.

Up-to-date information is available at: espoo.fi/coronavirus