The effect of coronavirus on teaching - Q&A

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Updated on 14 September at 15.35 (instructions for collecting attendance lists added)

On this page, questions and answers concerning the COVID-19 disease will be collected especially from the perspective of teaching and teachers’ work. Students' frequently asked questions and answers are available on the Instructions for Students website. Please select your degree programme above to see if your faculty has provided further instructions.

In the first place, the University always complies with instructions provided by the authorities. You can keep yourself up to date with developments on the University website Helsinki.fi: Coronavirus situation at the University of Helsinki.

Current situation

  • Due to the current coronavirus situation, the second stage of the University’s recovery plan continues also after 17 August 2020. See the recovery plan timetable here (pdf).
  • Teaching and guidance practices will be following the fall semester guidelines set in June: remote teaching and guidance is recommended and mass events will not be organised. Contact teaching can be organised under certain circumstances when safety regulations are taken into consideration. The aim is to ensure that especially first year students have the opportunity to meet at campuses in teaching and guidance situations.

Ob­serving com­mon rules re­mains the top pri­or­ity in pre­vent­ing the spread of the coronavirus:

  • Do not come to the campuses when ill or when experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus disease Assess your need for testing here: Omaolo service.
  • Be sure to practise extremely careful hand and coughing hygiene.
  • Leave room for others, and always keep a distance of one to two metres from others, whenever possible.
  • Do not shake hands or hug people.
  • Avoid unnecessary contact. In other words, meet in person only when necessary. (Meetings, development days etc. are primarily to be organised remotely.)
  • Please remember to clean any equipment in joint use after using it. Overall, cleaning activities at the University have been intensified.
  • The University of Helsinki recommends the use of protective masks in working and learning situations where safe social distancing cannot be observed. The University will provide protective masks for staff and students for working and learning situations in which their use is recommended. Working groups are preparing the centralised procurement and distribution of masks.

I feel ill. What should I do?

See instructions on the university website: Coronavirus situation at the University of Helsinki

A student in my course has coronavirus, what should I do?

  1. If the health authority* contacts you to identify possible exposures and chains of infection in students, ask them to contact your faculty’s Head of Academic Affairs. Send the Head of Academic Affairs a list of the students registered on the course in question, including their contact details. You can get the required information from WebOodi, under My teaching. Download an excel file of the registered students with additional information, this way the students’ contact details are included on the list.
  2. Contact the Head of Academic Affairs immediately to get further instructions. Please note that the identity of the infected student is confidential information, which cannot be disclosed to those exposed.
  3. If the student contacts you about a positive test result before the authority, ask the student when he/she has participated in your contact teaching. Tell the student that the exposed students will be informed after discussing with the authority, but without disclosing the identity of the infected student. Inform the Head of Academic Affairs also in this case.
  4. You should be prepared, if possible, to arrange alternative ways of completing the course for the students placed in quarantine. If the course has to be canceled, the decision will be made by the response center of your faculty.

At the moment, a student may be absent from teaching on his/her own notice. It is sufficient for students to report their illness to the teachers of their courses. The University does not require sick leave certificates of its students, and the Student Health Services (YTHS) does not typically issue them.

*the relevant authority is the unit responsible for epidemiological operations under the social services and healthcare division of the municipality.

Should attendance lists be collected?

In case of possible coronavirus exposures, the chains of infection will be tracked mainly based on registration lists in WebOodi.Therefore separate attendance lists are not necessary. Please remind the students of your courses to register in WebOodi on time and cancel their registration if needed.

If for some exceptional reason collecting attendance lists is necessary, circulating the list among students should be avoided for data protection and hygiene reasons. The attendance lists should be destroyed three weeks after the course has ended.

How will teaching, course examinations and doctoral defences be organised in the fall?

Teach­ing ar­range­ments

Teaching in the autumn is planned and implemented according to the plan drawn up in the summer.  

  • Remote teaching and supervision are recommended.
  • Contact teaching can be organised primarily for groups of no more than 50 individuals, taking safety regulations into consideration. When necessary, the relevant response centre will assess the necessity of contact teaching and prioritise facility use. See instructions on the use of teaching facilities.
  • Information on the capacity of teaching facilities with safe distance requirements can be found in Optime, on the facility introduction website and on Flamma.
  • The effect of social distancing on the number of available seats in the teaching facilities will be taken into account when planning timetables and facility use (e.g., staggered classes, allowing for space between people in rooms).
  • It is recommended to organise a contact teaching period in some form for new students during the first teaching period to support the beginning of studies and to promote inclusivity.
  • At the response centre's discretion, traineeships can be completed in accordance with the instructions of the host organisation.
  • Whenever possible, students in at-risk groups can be offered options for independent study. No verification is required from students for at-risk notifications.
  • To enable compliance with social distancing rules, the use of independent learning facilities is restricted in terms of participant numbers. 

International degree programmes will independently decide, or follow faculty-specific guidelines, on the types of study alternatives they will offer students in autumn 2020 (remote teaching, suspension of the beginning of teaching, etc. 

Remote examinations are also recommended. As of 1 June 2020, examinations critical can also be organised at the University if the faculty so decides. The Examinarium room at Aleksandria Learning Centre will open on August 17. More information from the Examinarium website. 

Public examinations of doctoral theses should continue to be held remotely. In the case of public examinations held on University premises, the audience cannot be larger than half the maximum capacity for the room, taking into account the social distancing rule of one to two metres and other safety guidelines. Read more about the guidelines for public examinations of doctoral theses.

How can I arrange my teaching as distance teaching?

Contact teaching and supervision at the University of Helsinki should be replaced by alternative methods, such as online teaching, home exams or written learning assignments. You are responsible for deciding which pedagogical solutions work best for your purposes and the course you’re teaching. Please inform the planning officer or specialist (koulutussuunnittelija) of your degree programme about the changes. Inform your students about the new arrangements through the course page (see user instructions).

If you decide to provide distance teaching, it is recommended to arrange it at home.

At the moment, distance teaching can also be offered from the appropriate facilities of the University, see further information on the page linked below. 

How to modify an existing course or exam into distance teaching

  • practical instructions: facilities for online teaching, Moodle instructions etc.
  • pedagogical tips for distance teaching

Instruction videos and streaming your lectures

  • technical information for choosing and using different online teaching tools

If you need, for example, a camera or microphone, please contact helpdesk@helsinki.fi. With the permission of the relevant supervisor, new equipment can be requested from Helpdesk, which will procure it, but your unit will be responsible for the equipment costs. For this, you need the WBS code of the unit paying for the purchase.

When can contact teaching be arranged?

Contact teaching can be organised primarily for groups of no more than 50 individuals, taking safety regulations into consideration. When necessary, the relevant response centre will assess the necessity of contact teaching and prioritise facility use.

It is recommended to organise some form of contact teaching to new students in the first teaching period. This helps to support the beginning of their studies and integrates them into the university community.

When organising any form of contact teaching, the safety of staff and students must be guaranteed through appropriate facility and hygiene arrangements and safety distances. See instructions on how to organise your contact teaching safely.

Should I arrange thesis supervision and other guidance remotely?

Remote supervision and guidance is recommended also for the fall term. In some cases, for example with PSP tutoring new students, normal guidance with safety distances can be considered.

Can I travel abroad for work purposes?

Travel abroad or in Finland must be limited to necessary travel only. In terms of travel restrictions, the guidelines set by the Finnish government are to be observed. Always check the current situation on the regions where travel restrictions apply before booking a trip and travelling.

If travelling to a restricted region is absolutely necessary, the quarantine guidelines also apply to working. Visiting the workplace is not allowed for 14 days after arriving in Finland. Taking a coronavirus test does not constitute an exemption from quarantine.

If you need to travel on a personal matter to a destination to which travel restrictions apply, agree in advance with your supervisor on telecommuting, a holiday or an unpaid leave of absence for the duration of your quarantine (14 days).

Employees and students affiliated with the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS) must observe the instructions issued by HUS as well as the specifications provided by the Faculty of Medicine. The dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine will provide instructions for ensuring the operations of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

How does the corona situation affect the degree reform schedule?

The transition period associated with the reform of first- and second-cycle degrees will be extended so that the deadline for graduating in accordance with the old degree requirements is 18 December 2020. Faculties will plan their schedules for submitting and assessing Masters' theses according to this new deadline. The extended deadline also applies to doctoral degrees.

Students are asking about the status of student exchanges, where do I direct them?

Follow the Mobility Services information on the effect of the coronavirus on student exchanges. The information will be updated as the situation changes.

Should the examination results be published within one month also in the exceptional situation?

In the exceptional situation of the University, the results and grading of the examination and assignments must also be published no later than one month after the examination or the deadline for the assignment.

Only for a special justified reason (e.g. due to the illness of one's own or family member) can the publication time of results be 6 weeks. This exception is valid only for the duration of the exceptional situation caused by coronavirus. Any delay in publishing the results must be notified to the students as early as possible, no later than one month after the examination or the deadline for the coursework.

A student needs support in distant learning and well-being in this exceptional situation. Where do I direct the student?

You can direct the student to take a look at the Mental well-being instruction page, where we have listed diverse support services in this exceptional situation. The Study psychologists have gathered directions for distant learning in the Support for studies instruction page. In addition, the Guidance corner's Well-being Tuesdays' events offer support for studies and student well-being. See the Well-being Tuesdays' instruction page.

Email address for coronavirus-related questions

If you have any questions about measures to be taken at the University as a result of the coronavirus, please send an email to coronavirus@helsinki.fi. All email messages will be answered by specialists in human resources and occupational health, facility and cleaning services, conferences and events, IT services, and teaching and learning services.

Read more about the situation

Further information can be obtained from

City Centre Campus

  • Faculty of Arts, Faculty of Theology: Anu Holvikivi, head of academic affairs, phone 02941 23351
  • Faculty of Educational Sciences: Virpi Kiljunen, head of academic affairs, phone 02941 28013 
  • Faculty of Law and Language Centre: Johanna Harju, head of academic affairs, phone 02941 24038
  • Faculty of Social Sciences: Mikko Vanhanen, head of academic affairs, phone 02941 24806

Kumpula Campus: Anne Palo-Kauppi, head of academic affairs, phone 02941 50061

Meilahti Campus: Linnea Lindh, head of academic affairs, phone 02941 26627

Viikki Campus:

  • Maika Strömberg, head of academic affairs, phone 02941 58021
  • Pia Saarinen, head of academic affairs, phone 02941 50601

International Exchange Services: Minna Koutaniemi, head of unit, phone 02941 22939

Admission services: Sini Saarenheimo, head of unit, phone 02941 22219

Open University: Sanna Saari-Salomeri, education specialist, phone 20941 02947