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Finnish children in early-childhood and years one to nine of basic education will return to classrooms starting on 14 May 2020, the government announced on Wednesday, 29 April 2020. (Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva)

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FINNISH TEACHERS have expressed their puzzlement with the government-issued instructions for bringing pupils back to the classroom as of 14 May.

The government announced the lifting of the weeks-long ban on in-person teaching earlier this week, advising education providers to, for instance, re-organise teaching environments more spaciously and utilise excess facilities to avoid unnecessary physical contact between pupils and staff.

Minister of Education Li Andersson (Left Alliance) on Wednesday urged schools to pay particular attention to the use of facilities, envisioning that some municipalities could hold classes for younger pupils in the morning and older ones in the afternoon.

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“In some localities, it may be possible to take advantage of other facilities,” she said.

In-person instruction was banned at all levels of education to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus in Finland in mid-March. The government said this week it will discuss the ban on upper secondary and higher education later.

Teachers across the country have voiced their bemusement with the notion of schools having access to additional facilities and being able to organise teaching in spacious settings.

“My unit has 500 pupils. The facilities are fully used. Over a half use school transport. We’d have to organise lunch class by class, take turns with teaching, arrange additional hand-washing. All this in two weeks. What’s the point, may I ask? A large number won’t show up for school,” tweeted Jari Andersson, the principal of Sylvää School in Sastamala.

“How can my 30 pupils be anywhere in a spacious manner?” echoed Timo Kilpiläinen (Greens), a teacher and policy maker in Espoo. “I’m genuinely asking. There isn’t a place in the school that’d be spacious for us.”

Teacher Tommi Kinnunen said the instructions are a tough ask for principals.

“I wouldn’t like to be a principal who has to rack his brain about what to do about itinerant teachers or the spaciousness requirement for fully cramped school premises. Good luck to anyone who tries to create a shift-based teaching model for a two-week period,” he stated.

The school year will end on Saturday, 30 May.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi

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