Starting the school year 2020/21 in the midst of a pandemic poses a host of new challenges for schools, teachers and training providers.
On 5 February 2020, the Ministry for Education and Employment (MEDE), in collaboration with the health ministry, issued the first circular informing parents and legal custodians about Covid-19 with information on protection measures that minimise the spread of respiratory infections. A fortnight later, the MEDE issued a second circular.
The Covid-19 outbreak has had a huge impact on the Norwegian economy, working life and, not least, the education sector. The pandemic has completely changed the everyday lives of teachers, students and apprentices.
All activities requiring the physical presence of students in schools were suspended in all pre-university level schools, including vocational education and training (VET) from 11 March.
The Finnish Government decided on 30 March that restrictions on contact teaching at different levels of education would be continued until 13 May. Teaching continued mainly in the form of distance learning. Later, the Government updated the restrictions so that contact teaching could restart at all levels of education as of 14 May. However, it recommended that distance learning should continue until the end of the school year for all other than basic education. Nordic countries are closely following each other’s actions in meeting the challenge of Covid-19.
On 11 March the Danish government decided that all public institutions, including all education establishments, should be closed to physical attendance from 16 March.
Following the declaration of a state of emergency, the physical presence of students in basic, upper secondary and tertiary professional schools was prohibited by the Resolution of the Czech Government of 12 March 2020. The state of emergency was declared for 30 days and subsequently extended until 17 May 2020. From 12 March 2020 until the end of the school year, 30 June 2020, online forms of learning have been used.
Measures were taken by the Italian Government in response to the coronavirus threat. On 4 March, the government closed all schools, training centres and universities nationwide (by Decree of the Prime Minister) after consultation with social partners and local authorities and taking into account the opinion of the scientific-technical committee, established by the government. Schools (including VET) closure continued during the entire lockdown period.
Greece has met the challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic efficiently. Authorities have not only taken all the necessary measures to contain the spread of the virus, but they have also excelled in superb communication management since day one, building social trust and persuading citizens to embrace the imposed measures.
Covid-19 affected the national education and training sector. International mobility programmes were suspended and, as of 16 March, the education process continued digitally, with remote learning, homework and assessment.