The effect of coronavirus on teaching - Q&A

Updated on 15 January at 15.20.

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

De­cisions by the coronavirus man­age­ment team, 5 Janu­ary 2021

The validity of the decisions made by the coronavirus management group has been extended from 10 January to 31 January 2021.

  • The University’s premises will be closed. The electronic access rights of staff will remain operational. A building where porter services will be available will be specified for each campus. Wearing a protective face mask is required on University premises, unless there are no other people present. Self-access facilities, Think Corner and computer rooms will be closed. Support for digital teaching is available (UniTube studios).
  • Necessary teaching and examination sessions will be held with permission by response centres until 31 January 2021.
  • No events or gatherings will be held on University premises. This does not apply to necessary teaching and examination sessions permitted by response centres, or other absolutely necessary meetings of no more than 10 individuals (e.g., statutory company meetings). Small-group instruction and any necessary examinations will be made possible by opening facilities as requested by the relevant response centre. 
  • Whenever possible, all work (including research) must be completed by telecommuting. If full-time telecommuting is impossible, the employee must discuss with their supervisor the possibility of part-time telecommuting. In laboratory work, a registration procedure is to be used, in addition to which work must be planned in observance of safety and security guidelines. Response centres can issue further instructions and provisions pertaining to the safety of laboratory work. 
  • Public examinations cannot be held on site. In conjunction with online public examinations, only the doctoral candidate, the opponent, the custos and other members of the grading committee, if any, an IT support specialist and the immediate family of the doctoral candidate are permitted to be present on site. The maximum occupancy of individual rooms is 10 people. 
  • With the exception of the Kaisa House library, Helsinki University Library locations will be closed. Collection-based lending and returning services will be organised at Kaisa House and the National Library of Finland. In other respects, the National Library will be closed as well. 
  • With the exception of the outdoor area of the Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden, the University Museum and the Finnish Museum of Natural History Luomus will be closed to the public until 31 January 2021. All of UniSport’s exercise and customer service facilities will be closed until 31 January 2021. 

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 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 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 for tracking purposes?

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.

Teaching during the spring term 2021

How will activities at the University be organised until January 31, 2021?

No events or gatherings are to be arranged on University premises. This does not apply to necessary teaching and examination sessions permitted by the response centres. As a rule, no more than 10 people are allowed to be present in contact teaching and on-site examination sessions. For compelling reasons, the above number may be raised to no more than 20 at the discretion of the relevant response centre. Small-group instruction and any necessary examinations will be made possible by opening facilities as requested by the relevant response centre.

Wearing a protective face mask is required on University premises, unless there are no other people present. 

More information on the use of teaching facilities can be found on the University website.

Teachers are not allowed to make new exams in Examinarium. If it is necessary to make an exam, the teacher needs to contact the response centre which if needed can allow the exam. The Examinarium exams that were booked before 30.11.2020 will be organised as planned (see more from the section Questions from students). 

Public examinations of doctoral theses will be held remotely until January 31, 2021. Public examinations cannot be held on site. In conjunction with online public examinations, only the doctoral candidate, the opponent, the custos and other members of the grading committee, if any, an IT support specialist and the immediate family of the doctoral candidate are permitted to be present on site. The maximum occupancy of individual rooms is 10 people.

Read more about the guidelines for public examinations of doctoral theses.

How will teaching, supervision and course examinations be organised during the spring term 2021 (1.2.2021–31.7.2021)? 

Teaching, supervision, guidance, and examinations will, as a rule, continue to be provided remotely in spring term 2021. Contact teaching and on-site examinations can be organised primarily for groups of no more than 50 individuals.

Contact teaching can be organised if instruction cannot be provided remotely without significantly compromising the quality of learning and learning outcomes. The overall amount of contact teaching must not significantly exceed the amount of contact teaching provided during autumn term 2020. The need for contact teaching will be assessed by the faculty-specific response centres, who will also determine priorities and provide necessary instructions for degree programmes.

Are there any in­struc­tions and de­cisions that are valid throughout the en­tire spring term 2021?

Safety guidelines must be observed: everyone is expected to practise social distancing and good hand hygiene, wear a face mask, and make sure that they do not enter the campuses when ill.

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. 

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. 

What else should be taken into consideration when organising contact teaching and on-site exams? 

When making a decision on and organising contact teaching and on-site exams one should apart from the above mentioned take into consideration the following:   

  • Instructions on the use of teaching facilities 
  • The effect of social distancing on the number of available seats in the teaching facilities (e.g., staggered classes, allowing for space between people in rooms) 
  • As far as possible the movement of students during the day from distance teaching to contact teaching 
  • The protective face mask recommendation 
  • Whenever possible, students in at-risk groups must be offered independent study alternatives. No verification is required from students for at-risk notifications.  

The method of teaching is mainly decided on before the enrolment for courses begin. In principle there are no changes made to teaching even though the coronavirus pandemic would ease up. If the coronavirus pandemic worsens, teaching will be organised according to stricter safety and security requirements. The distance and contact teaching is primarily organised according to the planned schedule. The teaching can be organised as blended learning e.g. a study module can have both contact and distance teaching. 

General instructions for teaching in the spring term

The teacher in charge of the course should take care of the students having the needed information before the enrolment begins and before the teaching begins.

More detailed instructions on how the teaching is organised is decided on by the faculty/study programme/unit in charge of the teaching. 

At the response centre's discretion, traineeships can be completed in accordance with the instructions of the host organisation. 

To enable compliance with social distancing rules, the use of independent learning facilities is restricted in terms of participant numbers. See the opening hours of the libraries, learning centres and exam facilities

Can attendance in teaching be required?   

The student must participate actively in teaching. In the curriculum of the study programme attendance can be defined compulsory, if it is pedagogically justified or teaching arrangements require it. Compulsory attendance can apply to a singular study module or its part.  

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.    

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.

Instructions for the public examinations of doctoral theses

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.

The following procedures should be adopted until the end of the year in public examinations: 

  • Members of the audience must wear face masks throughout the session. 
  • Masks will be provided by the University for those who arrive without a mask. 
  • The doctoral candidate, opponent and custos should wear a mask throughout the session, or at least when entering and leaving the room where the public examination is held. 
  • No catering for public examinations can be organised. 

Read more about the guidelines for public examinations of doctoral theses.

Distance teaching and guidance

How can I arrange my teaching remotely?

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.

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.

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.

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.

Can a student go do an Examinarium exam (that was agreed on earlier) even though University facilities are closed?

If the student has booked an Examinarium exam before 30.11.2020, the exam will be organised as planned and the exam space will be opened for the occasion. Students can also book times for exams that are already registered. The booking calendars are in use. 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 buldings 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.

  

Degree reform and transition period

The transition period associated with the reform of first- and second-cycle degrees was extended so that the deadline for graduating in accordance with the old degree requirements was 18 December 2020.

Travelling

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 10 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 (10 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.

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: 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