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Veikkola - Finland 

Veikkola elementary and lower secondary school

Assistant Principal Jussi Määttä (Left) and special education teacher Kati Karjalainen - Rimppi (Right)

Our Experiences During Covid-19 in Finland

During the global pandemic we’ve been lucky to avoid the worst consequences of Covid-19. The amount of cases has been lower with a few peaks contrary to other European countries.

In spring 2020 we experienced remote teaching with our pupils as the Finnish government introduced several restrictions to tackle the spread of the pandemic. We’ve learned to appreciate daily activities such as sports, culture events and family gatherings that used to be normal before the pandemic. From August we’ve been back teaching at school but trying to avoid contamination with strict hygiene rules. School festivities and gatherings are banned and online festivities are taking place.

In 2021 most of the elementary schools and day care units are functioning as before pandemic where as high schools and universities are teaching in remote mode. Anyhow, due to several restrictions our daily lives have changed a lot.

When our school went into distance learning mode, all our teachers became such pros with Google Classroom and Meet. Even the ones who had no previous experience with online teaching. And it all happened so fast, almost overnight. We were really lucky to have colleagues who helped with all the new “IT stuff” that we had to master so quickly. So, many of us, we were really out of our comfort zone, learning something new every day.

During distance learning mode we tried to keep the daily schedule as normal as possible and to contact our students every day. Many students had computers, laptops or tablets at home, some of them borrowed a computer from school and some tried to cope with only their mobile phone. Also the teachers used their own devices or kept their lessons in an empty classroom at school until in the middle of the distance learning period the school provided a laptop for each teacher (this would have happened even without covid restrictions).

Covid restrictions to the everyday life of school children haven’t been terribly strict in Finland. The distance shool experience in spring 2020 showed a rise in children in danger of becoming school dropouts. The emotional contact between people created in the physical school classroom is unsurpassed. In 2021 elementary schools try hard to stay open. Only if there is a covid case in a school, the whole school or certain classes change to distance learning mode for a short period of time.

At the moment all school staff wears masks and children from 6th graders to 9th graders are asked to wear masks (three cloth masks were provided to everyone on the behalf of the school). Not all the students are willing to wear a mask.

Tuija Collander is a special education teacher for 3rd and 4th grades at Veikkola elementary and lower secondary school. For this article she collaborated with the international relations team of teachers at her school.

Note: Starting the first week of March all middle and high schools in Finland will be virtual at least for 3 weeks going forward.

Veikkola elementary and lower secondary is one of GEA partner schools in Finland.

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