The effect of coronavirus on teaching - Q&A

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Updated on 24 September at 11:50.

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 Coronavirus situation at the University of Helsinki.

The next info session on the coronavirus situation will be held on Monday, 25 October 2021 from 10.00 to 11.00.

Current situation

  • After subsiding to the acceleration phase of the epidemic in the summer, the Helsinki Metropolitan Area has again returned to the community transmission phase. The University of Helsinki will continue observing restriction level 2 in accordance with the University’s recovery plan
  • Teaching and examinations in the first teaching period will be implemented as planned.
  • When restrictions are lifted on the national level, the amount of contact instruction will be increased, whenever possible.
  • As a rule, buildings and teaching facilities will be open as usual. Self-access facilities have been opened, and others will be opened when possible. 
  • The number of participants in events for more than 10 people held indoors on University premises cannot exceed 50% of the seating or standing room capacity available in normal circumstances. While there are no restrictions on participant numbers outdoors, organisers of events for more than 50 people must ensure that the participants avoid physical contact. To comply with the above guidelines, customers and participants as well as groups attending events must be able to avoid close contact with each other, while ensuring safety in accordance with the guidelines published on 31 May 2021 by the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare. NB! Teaching has its own attendee restrictions!
  • The libraries, museums and sports and fitness services will continue operating according to the guidelines set for the summer. Up to date information on the opening hours and available services of the libraries can be found on the Helsinki University Library website.
  • Public examinations of doctoral theses can be organised and planned to be held on site as of August, but there must be a plan to hold the event over remote connections if needed.
  • The recommendation to telecommute will end on 30 September, 2021.
  • 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.
  • On the University premises, protective face masks must be worn, and social distancing as well as good hand hygiene must be practised. Everyone on the premises has the right to feel safe.

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. (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 use of protective face masks is strongly recommended for members of the University community, visitors and customers (e.g., in cafeterias, museums, libraries and sports facilities) visiting public University premises. Mask use is recommended in contact teaching as well as guidance and supervision situations. In laboratory teaching, mask use is required. The University is obtaining protective face masks for students and teachers involved in contact teaching. Please check the up-to-date recommendations on face masks on the University’s website.

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 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 Sisu.
  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, 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. 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.

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 autumn 2021 

Teaching and exams during the first period, September 13 to October 21, 2021

Teaching and examinations are organised so that it is possible to avoid close contact with each other. Mass lectures are held remotely.

Teaching and examinations in the first teaching period will be implemented as planned.

  • A seating capacity in accordance with social distancing rules has been determined for all teaching facilities. Capacities are displayed can be found on the Excel sheet on Flamma and in the timetabling and facility booking system Optime (both require login with University credentials) as well as, in the case of teaching facilities in shared use, on the facility booking website.
  • Small-group instruction has been prioritised in the planning of contact instruction. As a rule, mass lectures are held remotely.
  • First-year students of bachelor’s and master’s programmes as well as second-year students of bachelor’s programmes have been prioritised in the planning of contact instruction.
  • According to the plans, contact instruction is organised for groups of up to 50 students, taking into account the occupancy limits of the facilities. The response centres of faculties and other units providing teaching can increase the maximum number of students in groups.
  • Planned on-site examinations can be held so that more than 50 students are present in the same facility, provided that occupancy limits that enable safe social distancing are observed.
  • If all planned contact instruction cannot be safely organised, the relevant response centre will decide on the prioritisation of such instruction.

Teaching and exams during the second period, November 1 to December 31, 2021

When restrictions are lifted on the national level, the amount of contact instruction will be increased, whenever possible.

  • On-site learning will be enabled, for example, by expanding group sizes when occupancy limits rise.
  • Currently planned teaching times and dates will remain valid, and lectures for large student groups will be held online as planned. On a case-by-case basis, other remote instruction can be switched to contact instruction. In hybrid instruction, the number of students attending contact instruction can be increased, or all instruction can be switched to contact instruction.
  • Changes can be planned provided that the capacity of teaching facilities returns to normal.
  • Contact instruction and on-site examinations can also be organised for groups of more than 50 students.
  • When planning changes to teaching, plans previously drawn up by teachers and students as well as available teaching facilities will be taken into account.
  • Any changes will be announced before the relevant registration period begins. When necessary, faculties will provide degree programmes with more detailed scheduling guidelines.
  • When needed, the teachers will update the course information on the course page before the enrolment period begins. If there are significant changes to the course information once the enrolment period has begun, the teacher will notify students already enrolled to the course.
Examples of changes to instruction 

Examples of changes that can be made to existing teaching facility reservations or by changing the reservation to another facility, if such are available:

  • In hybrid teaching more students can be admitted to contact instruction or the hybrid teaching can completely be changed into contact instruction.
  • A course that has been planned as distance instruction can completely or partly be switched to contact teaching.
  • If the maximum number of participants in the course or exam has been determined by the seating capacity that takes into account the social distancing rules, the number of participants can be increased.
Seating capacity of teaching facilities

Please note that until the beginning of the second period, i.e. November 1, 2021, the systems also show the seating capacity in accordance with social distancing rules. The normal seating capacity and the seating capacity in accordance with social distancing rules can be seen on the teaching facility website.

The normal seating capacity can be seen under seating capacity and the seating capacity in accordance with social distancing rules can be seen in brackets after the facility name. The seating capacity can also be seen in Optime, e.g., in the facility calendar, in the format "Metsätalo, sali 12 (17) (44)". The number 17 is the seating capacity in accordance with social distancing rules and the number 44 the normal seating capacity.

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). Degree programmes will determine substituting procedures for such courses. 
  • If a student in a at-risk group estimates that they cannot participate in contact instruction, they have to contact the teacher as soon as possible. Students in at-risk groups can be offered independent study alternatives if the teacher estimates that e.g. the content of the course and its learning objectives make this possible. No verification is required from students for at-risk notifications.
  • 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. 
  • Attendance in remote teaching sessions may be required as specified in the curriculum. 

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 protective face mask recommendation 
  • The teaching can be organised as blended learning e.g. a study module can have both contact and distance teaching.
  • If the coronavirus pandemic worsens, teaching will be organised according to stricter safety and security requirements. 

What if for health reasons I can't wear a mask or the student in my course does not wear a mask?

Wearing a protective face mask is required on University premises indoors, unless there are no other people present in the same room. The recommendation to wear protective face masks remains valid until further notice. If you are unable to use the mask, we recommend using a visor. If the student is unable to wear the mask, student can be advised to use a visor. If you need interpretation assistance about the mask's recommended use, contact your Faculty Response Center.

Public examinations of doctoral theses

Instructions on how to organise public examinations of doctoral these during the coronavirus situation can be found on the page Doctoral defences and coronavirus situation.

Public examinations of doctoral theses can be organised and planned to be held on site as of August, but there must be a plan to hold the event over remote connections if needed.

Distance teaching, hybrid teaching and distance guidance

Where can I find instructions on how to implement distance teaching?

Instructions on distance teaching can be found on the following pages:

If you need, for example, a camera or microphone, to arrange distance teaching, please see instructions on how to order IT accessories on the page How to order IT accessories in Flamma (requires logging in).

Where can I find instructions on how to arrange hybrid teaching?

Hybrid teaching is a teaching situation where some of the students take part in the teaching on site and some take part through distance teaching.

The instructions for distance teaching can also in part be applied to hybrid teaching, please see the instructions How can I modify an existing course or exam into distance teaching? and How to implement remote teaching in the exceptional situation: pedagogical instructions. Information on teaching facilities suitable for hybrid teaching can be found on the page Teaching facilities and information on equipment on the page Educational videos and streaming your lectures.

For questions related to pedagogy, you can contact the Centre for University Teaching and Learning (HYPE).

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 I arrange thesis supervision and other guidance remotely?

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

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.

Teaching in spring 2022

Teaching is being planned according to the premise that no pandemic-related restrictions will be in effect in the spring.

Teaching planning is based on three things: on the Curriculum of the degree program,the decisions made in the management groups of the degree programs in the Spring of 2021 on the Curriculum and the implementation method suitable for the teacher's pedagogical assessment.

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 (not hybrid). Teaching is planned so that curricula with implementation methods can be published to students by the end of November. The degree programs inform their teachers about the planning and schedule of spring teaching.

Preliminary teaching programme for Spring 2022 can be found in the Student Instructions.

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 in the fall?

The final teaching programmes for bachelor’s, master’s, licentiate's and doctoral programmes along with the Language Center will be published in Sisu and Courses on exceptional schedule due to the coronavirus situation: the autumn term 2021 by the end of July and the spring term 2022 by the end of November. Final teaching programmes contain information on the dates and times, teaching facilities, teachers and registration practices, as well as, if necessary, information specifying the curriculum.

The exact time of publication of the teaching programmes varies slightly, degree programmes and the Language Center will notify students of the specifics if necessary.

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.

How big of a portion of students are studying remotely and how many on-site during the fall?

In the planning of the University’s teaching no student group has been excluded from contact teaching. The only conditions for organising contact instruction are spacious room arrangements and small groups so that safety distances can be observed.

Pedagogically it has been possible to make arrangements in which part of the course is organised onsite and part online. This has made it possible to enable small group work also in cases where the total number of participants in the course is high.

Are some groups (e.g. first/second year students) prioritised in contact instruction?

First-year students of bachelor’s and master’s programmes as well as second-year students of bachelor’s programmes can be prioritised in contact instruction. 

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?

Examinarium examinations can be arranged according to this spring’s teaching programme. In the exam rooms half of the computers are in use (max 8 computers per room). The porter will open the door to students when necessary. If the students has any questions related to examinations they can contact their own study programme. 

The City Centre campus' (Aleksandria) Examinarium spaces can be accessed by calling the porter. The instructions and phone numbers can be found in the entrance hall of the Kaisa House and the gate at the Fabianinkatu side. The Kumpula Examinarium space can be accessed normally and one can enter the space in Viikki by calling the porter, the instructions and number are available on the door.

If one has difficulties in entering the premises, the front doors of the University buildings have the porters' phone numbers.

The exam spaces have hand sanitizers and disinfectant towels. It is advisable to bring one's own mask to the exam. If needed, it is possible to get masks from the porter / from the exam space, depending on the campus.

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.  

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 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, 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: 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