The government has decided to open up the schools on May 14. Two weeks before the summer holiday without acknowledging the teacher's and principal's opinion even though they are the experts in the particular sector. Teachers and other school staffs are the ones in charge of our children's education as well as their safety, nutrition, and every other important thing that the children will need to make their school days a safe and supportive school environment.
However, the government will open the school for two weeks, which is only 40 hours for 1-3 graders, because they are worried about the minority of children who are at risk of exclusion
(syrjäytynyt). They explained how these children are vulnerable without school because the teachers are not able to locate them. They explained how these children are vulnerable without school because the teachers are not able to locate them. But how about the majority of times when these children are not in school, at the weekends and the coming summer holiday? Is it really the educator's duty to save them or is it the social and healthcare worker's duty to find them and keep them safe?
Remote Teaching and Classroom teaching
However, most of the children are doing well in distant learning. The teachers have made a remarkable transition from classroom teaching to remote teaching in a brief period. Remote education will not be an option, says Li Andersson, when the school opens its doors to classroom teaching. To some teachers, its a relief. But one must consider that if there is another new wave of the pandemic which is worse than this. Will our schools stay open, or do we go back to remote teaching? And can we develop distant learning to a level that the quality is more stable for all our children with the right tools and types of equipment?
For most, virtual learning is a welcomed option in these uncertain times. It helps some students to concentrate better; no one is disturbing, or bullying; no need to walk or ride to school, and learning happens at the pace of the student. The children get to focus on education. This also helps the children that are in need of classroom teaching, because they were able to go to school if their guardians have wanted them to do so. Some children with special needs have benefitted that most children are at-home learning.
The government and Health Professionals tone has changed
Since the beginning of this outbreak, the government has told us to stay home, social distance ourselves from everyone, wash our hands, and no gatherings over ten people, protect the elderly—everyone's lives matter.
This time the tone has changed because the progress of the spread of the virus is too slow; THL wants to put our children to school because they say that children have mild symptoms or are asymptomatic. THL and STM have evaluated that the virus is spreading slower and lower in April than expected, and it will cause significant health and economic problem in the future. They estimate that if there are no contact restrictions, there will be an epidemic peak in the late fall or winter if we let it continue this way in the summer. Could this be the reason why they want us to put our children for two weeks to school before school ends? We can get sick in the summer holiday or maybe not.
Still, as we all know it, there are not many studies or enough data in the Nordics or Scandinavia to know that our children will be safe. At the moment, there are just too many maybes and might be.
The government has said that there are no more grounds to extend the primary education and basic education on the epidemiological assessment. Children are hardly a source of infection. They evaluated that based on current information, opening schools is safe for both students and staff, the government says, relying on health authorities.
When students go back to school, they have to avoid unnecessary physical contact from other students and faculty staff. Education is organized in shifts and facilities other than classrooms to keep teaching groups separate throughout the day.
The same teacher will teach the same group of students; breaks and meals will be arranged with their class or group, and strict hygiene instructions must be followed. However, no child or adult should come to school with flu symptoms. Still, there will be no mass gatherings and spring parties.
If there are children or family members who are in the risk group, they can ask permission from their doctor to be away from the school.
What happens if I choose to stay home
Before closing the school in March, parents have chosen to take their children from school. Now that the government will open the schools, many parents want to continue to keep their children at home.
According to the Basic Education Act in Finland, a pupil must either participate in basic education or otherwise receive information corresponding to the basic education curriculum like homeschooling. It is not compulsory to participate in classroom teaching if guardians can take care of the learning process according to the school curriculum. However, the student's residence must monitor the student's progress, and the guardian can be fined if they neglect their duty. However, the last two weeks are usually quite flexible and easy-going because the final exams have already been done, and the teachers have already evaluated the grades of their students.
Permission to be absent must be applied from the school. The teacher typically decides if the pupil is absent for less than three days. If the student is absent for more than three days, then the principle will determine whether the students agreed to be absent or not. If your permission is denied, then it is practically unauthorized absence. However, the school cannot punish the student if it is the guardian's decision. The government can recommend guidelines, but it's probably not legally binding either.