Restrictions on early childhood education and care, primary and secondary education and vocational education and training extended until 13 May

Ministry of Education and Culture 6.4.2020 11.36 | Published in English on 6.4.2020 at 12.10
Press release

The Government will continue to impose restrictions on contact teaching at all levels of education. This means that the exceptional arrangements for education will be extended until 13 May. Teaching will continue to be organised in alternative ways by means of distance learning and other similar arrangements. The Government still recommends that children in early childhood education and care, pre-primary education and in years 1 to 3 of comprehensive school education stay at home, if possible.

On 31 March, the Government issued a decree on the use of powers under the Emergency Powers Act (decree on continuing the use of powers under the Emergency Powers Act), and, on the basis of it, a decree on the application of the Emergency Powers Act on 6 April, which makes provision for continuing the measures to contain the spread of coronavirus.  The decree will enter into force on 14 April 2020.

The decision to extend the exceptional arrangements is based on an assessment made by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare on 29 March of the measures needed to contain the COVID-19 epidemic.

The aim is to slow down the spread of coronavirus infections by reducing contacts between pupils, students, teaching staff and other personnel at all levels of education.

Early childhood education and care

The provision of early childhood education and care will continue. Early childhood education centres are open, but the Government recommends that parents or other guardians arrange the care of their children at home if this is possible.

Municipalities are not obliged to organise early childhood education and care remotely.

Pre-primary education

The provision of pre-primary education will continue in the form of contact teaching. Municipalities are not obliged to arrange pre-primary education remotely, but they may do so if they wish.

Pupils in grades 1 to 3, pupils in special support, pupils in extended compulsory education and pupils in education preparing for basic education

A clarification to the decree will be made so that pupils in education preparing for basic education have the right to receive contact teaching. Pupils in preparatory education are pupils in basic education who have an immigrant background. The focus in their education is on studying Finnish and Swedish, and on providing skills for pre-primary or comprehensive school education. The purpose of these changes is to give support to pupils whose parents are not always able to help their children in distance education. The change concerns about 3,000 pupils.

The decree also stipulates that pupils in grades 1 to 3, pupils receiving special support, pupils in extended compulsory education and pupils in education preparing for basic education have the right to take part in distance learning if their parents are able to keep them at home. The right to distance learning was not mentioned in the previous decree.

The Government recommends that those entitled to contact teaching take part in distance learning whenever possible.

Comprehensive school grades 4 to 10

The decrees concerning other comprehensive school grades remain unchanged. Teaching in grades 4 to 10 is arranged in the form of distance learning and exceptional teaching arrangements.

School meals and student welfare

The principles governing school meals will remain unchanged. School meals must be provided for pupils participating in contact teaching. For pupils attending distance learning, school meals may be arranged only to the extent that it is feasible.

However, the education provider can always, in cooperation with student welfare, identify pupils for whom a daily school meal is very important and organise a meal for them even in situations where it is necessary to restrict the provision of meals significantly in order to avoid close contacts. This way it is possible to safeguard school meals for pupils at risk of being deprived of sufficient nutrition.

Student welfare should  be organised to the extent that it is possible.

General upper secondary schools, vocational schools and higher education institutions

The decrees concerning general upper secondary schools, vocational schools and higher education institutions remain unchanged, with the exception of some specifications related to vocational schools.

Specifications for vocational education and training

The specifications of vocational education and training are related to assistive services and aids required for demanding special support and learning. This concerns especially students who need assistance the most. In addition, an exemption provision is no longer necessary for drawing up and updating personal competence development plans.

Liberal adult education and basic education in the arts

The provisions on liberal education and basic education in the arts will remain unchanged. Facilities will remain closed and contact teaching in them is suspended.

The exceptional arrangements may continue until the end of term, if necessary

The Government is already making provision to extend the exceptional arrangements at different levels of education until the end of term, if this is deemed necessary for containing the epidemic. This would be done by extending the duration of the decree on the use of powers under the Emergency Powers Act and the decree on the application of the Emergency Powers Act until the end of May, where appropriate. This would allow a reassessment of the measures necessary to contain the coronavirus epidemic at the end of April.

The Emergency Powers Act and the statutes adopted by virtue of it also apply to the Åland Islands, even though the content of Åland’s legislation does not fully correspond to the content of the national laws referred to in the Emergency Powers Act and the decree on the application of the Emergency Powers Act.

Inquiries:

  • Early childhood education, pre-primary and basic education: Eeva-Riitta Pirhonen, Director General, tel. +358295330258 
  • General upper secondary education: Mika Tammilehto, Director General, tel. +358 295 330 308 
  • Higher education: Tapio Kosunen, Director-General, tel. +358 295 330 440 
  • Basic education in the arts: Riitta Kaivosoja, Director General, tel. +358 295 330 129
  • Eerikki Nurmi, Senior Adviser for Legislative Affairs, tel. +358 295 330 234


Government Decree on the continuation of the use of powers laid down in sections 86, 88, 93, 94 and 109 of the Emergency Powers Act (31.3. in Finnish)

Decree on the application of the Emergency Powers Act (6.4. in Finnish)