The effect of coronavirus on teaching - Q&A

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By selecting a degree programme you are able to see the general content as well as the possible degree programme-specific content.

Updated on 14 January at 10:19.

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.

The next coronavirus information session is expected to be held on Monday, 24 January 2022 at 10.00–11.00.

Current situation

Decisions by the crisis management team, 11 January 2022

  • In the third teaching period, teaching will primarily be organised over remote connections. Decisions on necessary contact instruction, such as laboratory and skills courses, are made by faculty-specific response centres. Contact instruction can be organised for groups of no more than 25 people.
  • If the crisis management team finds in February that the pandemic situation has eased, supervision, teaching and contact meetings can be organised for small groups (no more than 25 people) at the discretion of degree programmes or supervisors.
  • Sufficient and spacious self-access facilities will be ensured for students on all campuses.
  • Examinations can be held on site or online as planned. In on-site examinations, sufficient spaciousness of examination facilities must be ensured and the number of participants restricted, when necessary, to 50 people in the same facility.
  • The guidelines for teaching may have to be amended according to future decisions by the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Finnish government or the Regional State Administrative Agency.
  • Face masks must be worn in teaching and learning situations. Protective face masks are to be worn on all premises when not alone.
  • All public examinations of doctoral theses must be planned as remote access events until January 31, 2022.
  • Research that requires on-site presence can be conducted on the premises. When working in laboratories, special attention must be paid to health and safety. The crisis management team recommends reintroducing a booking system for laboratory facilities.
  • A recommendation to work remotely applies for the time being to all positions and duties where work can be performed remotely.
  • Self-access facilities will be kept open while observing health and safety guidelines and ensuring safe distances. Independent study facilities are closed for the time being. Exceptions are listed in Instructions for students.
  • The hygiene-related requirements based on the Communicable Diseases Act will remain in force in facilities open to the public (not work facilities).
  • We urge members of the University community to get vaccinated against coronavirus, since extensive general vaccination coverage in the population enables in-person encounters and normal University operations. Information about vaccinations is considered personal health information, which supervisors or teachers cannot require employees or students to share. Neither can such information be collected. Naturally, voluntary discussion about vaccinations is permitted.

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 avoid close contact with other people, whenever possible.
  • Do not shake hands or hug people.
  • Meet in person only when necessary.
  • Please remember to clean any equipment in joint use after using it. Overall, cleaning activities at the University have been intensified.
  • Face masks must be worn in teaching and learning situations. Protective face masks are to be worn on all premises when not alone. The University is obtaining protective face masks for students and teachers involved in contact teaching.

Getting sick or exposed to the coronavirus

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 student contacts you about a positive test result, ask the student when he/she has participated in your contact teaching. Tell the student that the exposed students will be informed, but without disclosing the identity of the infected student. Please note that the identity of the infected student is confidential information, which cannot be disclosed to those exposed.
  2. Contact the Head of Academic Affairs to get further instructions. 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 Sisu.
  3. A student can not participate in contact instruction when sick or in quarantine. In these situations the student should contact their teacher, who will estimate if self-study options can be given while the student is absent. 

One can not participate in contact instruction when sick or in quarantine. 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. In these situations the student should contact their teacher, who will estimate if self-study options can be given while the student is absent.

*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 for tracking purposes?

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

Teaching in spring 2022

Teaching and examinations in the third teaching period

In the third teaching period, teaching will primarily be organised over remote connections. Decisions on necessary contact instruction, such as laboratory and skills courses, are made by faculty-specific response centres. Contact instruction can be organised for groups of no more than 25 people.

If the crisis management team finds in February that the pandemic situation has eased, supervision, teaching and contact meetings can be organised for small groups (no more than 25 people) at the discretion of degree programmes or supervisors.

Sufficient and spacious self-access facilities will be ensured for students on all campuses.

Examinations can be held on site or online as planned. In on-site examinations, sufficient spaciousness of examination facilities must be ensured and the number of participants restricted, when necessary, to 50 people in the same facility.

The guidelines for teaching may have to be amended according to future decisions by the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Finnish government or the Regional State Administrative Agency.

Teaching is basically planned in such a way that the courses or its different teaching sessions are considered to be either contact or distance learning. Contact  and remote teaching can also alternate during the course. Hybrid teaching, i.e. a teaching situation where some of the students take part in the teaching on site and some take part through distance teaching, is not recommended.

The teaching programmes can be found in Sisu and Courses.

Attending teaching 

  • Compulsory class attendance does not apply to contact teaching, unless the completion method in question requires physical presence (such as laboratory courses, patient encounters, skills courses). In addition, attendance in contact instruction may be required in accordance with the curriculum, if attaining the approved learning outcomes of the degree programme requires attendance.
  • If the course completion method requires attendance, degree programmes decide on alternative procedures for teaching.
  • Students who are absent due to coronavirus (illness, exposure, quarantine) should be offered substituting assignments, where possible.
  • Whenever possible, students in at-risk groups must be offered independent study alternatives. No verification is required from students for at-risk notifications.
  • Attendance in remote teaching sessions may be required as specified in the curriculum.
  • One can not participate in contact instruction when sick or in quarantine. In these situations the student should contact their teacher, who will estimate if self-study options can be given while the student is absent.

If close contact cannot be avoided in a teaching situation, what should be communicated with the face masks?

Face masks must be worn in teaching and learning situationsProtective face masks are to be worn on all premises when not alone.

Instructions on the use of teaching facilities 

  • Instructions on the use of teaching facilities 
  • As far as possible the movement of students during the day from distance teaching to contact teaching 
  • The teaching can be organised as blended learning e.g. a study module can have both contact and distance teaching.

Public examinations of doctoral theses

All public examinations of doctoral theses must be planned as remote access events until January 31, 2022.

You can read more about organizing the Doctoral defences in the updated bulletin.

Does the university require a Covid-19 passport?

The Covid-19 passport cannot be required of participants at regular University activities, like teaching.

As an alternative to restrictions, COVID-19 passports can be required at University events that do not constitute teaching, research or other regular internal activities, such as meetings of University bodies or official events, including opening ceremonies and conferments.

Instructions for teaching and guidance

Where can I find instructions on how to implement teaching?

Teaching in spring 2022 is planned in such a way that the courses or its different teaching sessions are considered to be either contact or distance learning. Hybrid teaching, i.e. a teaching situation where some of the students take part in the teaching on site and some take part through distance teaching, is not recommended. However, it is recommended that contact  and remote teaching alternate during the course.

Teaching facilities

Computers and software

There are no teaching facilities booked for me in Optime. Does this mean that I must conduct all my teaching as distance teaching?

The course implementations have been set by the steering group of the degree programme. If you have questions about the implementation, please contact the timetabling officer in your degree programme (contact details on Flamma). The timetabling officer completes facility bookings and makes changes to the bookings.

More information on teaching facilities can be found on the page Teaching facilities.

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.

Questions from students

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.

How will the students know how the courses are organised?

The teaching information can be checked: 

Please note that due to the coronavirus situation, more changes to the teaching programmes may be required than usual.

If Sisu or Courses does not have a location listed alongside the teaching schedule, this generally means that teaching will be conducted remotely. If the student is unsure how the teaching will be conducted, he/she is given the advice to check the information available on Courses or the Moodle page (if one is used for the course). If necessary, the student can contact the teacher responsible for the course.

Please remember to notify students well beforehand on how the course is implemented either on the course page or in Moodle.

Can teaching arrangements still change quickly if e.g. the coronavirus situation worsens?

If the situation worsened in such manner that the authorities would instruct spaces to be closed and teaching to be changed to remote instruction, the University will make the needed changes to teaching.

Can a student go do an Examinarium exam even though University facilities are closed?

All the campuses spaces are open and can be accessed normally. Examinarium examinations can be arranged according to the teaching programme. If the students has any questions related to Examinarium examinations they can contact the exam services.

The exam spaces have hand sanitizers and disinfectant towels. Protective face masks must be used in Examinarium spaces, if you are not alone in the room. If needed, it is possible to get masks from the porter / from the exam space, depending on the campus.

Where can students find information about facilities for independent study?

For more information on independent study facilities for students, please see the Instructions for students.

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

Follow the International Exchange Services and Education Cooperation's information on the effect of the coronavirus on student exchanges. The information will be updated as the situation changes.  

Contact persons and further information

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: Marianne Järveläinen, head of academic affairs, phone 02941 24807

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

Meilahti Campus: Terhi Kemilä, 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 and Education Cooperation: Minna Koutaniemi, head of unit, phone 02941 22939

Admission services: 

  • Student admissions and advice: Karolina Kokko-Uusitalo, phone 02941 28332
  • Applicant advice and recruitment: Maarit Kallio, phone 02941 22774
  • Applicant advice and recruitment: Riitta Heinsalo, phone 02941 22353 

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