A new regulation from the Minister of Health laying down restrictions in schools and universities as part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic takes effect as from 3 November 2020. The aim is to interfere as little as possible with educational work, and that activities in pre-schools and the early years of compulsory schooling should proceed in full. In accordance with the recommendations of the Chief Epidemiologist, the rules on wearing face masks will be changed so that they do not apply to children born in or after 2011.
The regulation, based on the recommendations from the Chief Epidemiologist in response to the spread of COVID-19, was drawn up in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. It applies to pre-schools, junior schools (compulsory, to age 16), music schools, upper secondary schools (post-16), post-secondary education and the universities; in all cases, it covers both state-run and private establishments. It also covers activities in after-school activity centres and social centres, sporting activities, youth clubs and organised leisure activities for young people.
- A maximum of 50 children is permitted in each separate space. The 2-metre social distancing rule does not apply to pre-school children. Staff must maintain a social distance of 2 metres from each other; where this is not possible, they are to wear face masks. Organised sports, youth and leisure events involving children of pre-school age are not permitted either inside or outside the pre-school premises.
Junior schools (compulsory schools, ages 6-16)
- First level, i.e. Grades 1–4: Pupils are exempted from the 2-metre social distancing rule and are not required to wear face masks.A maximum of 50 pupils may be together in the same space. The same rules apply for after-school leisure centres for children in Grades 1-4.
- Grades 5–10: A maximum of 25 pupils may be together in the same space. They are required to observe the 2-metre social distancing rule; where this is not possible, they shall wear face masks. Staff must also observe the 2-metre rule and use face masks where this is not possible.
- Staff of junior schools (compulsory schools, pupils aged 6-16): A maximum of 10 staff members may be together in the same space; they are permitted to move between groups. Staff shall observe the 2-metre social distancing rule towards each other and towards pupils in Grades 5–10. Where this is not possible, they shall wear face masks.
- Maximum group sizes; mixing of groups: The same group divisions shall be observed among pupils in junior schools and in after-school leisure centres, so ensuring that there is no mixing between pupil groups. The rules on group sizes and mixing of groups may be set aside in common areas in schools, providing that pupils in Grades 5–10, and the staff, wear face masks.
- Organised sporting, youth and leisure activities, including the activities of social centres and activities for children aged 6-16, are prohibited.
First year of school at the upper secondary level (pupils aged post-16)
- In the compulsory courses taken in the first academic year of upper-secondary schools, there may be up to 25 individuals in the same space, providing it is possible to observe the 2-metre social distancing rule.
Upper secondary schools, universities and music schools
- The general rules of a maximum of 10 persons gathered in one space, the 2-metre social distance rule and the obligation to wear face masks apply in the universities and music schools, and also in upper secondary schools with the exception of the compulsory courses in the first year. Mixing of groups of pupils or students is not permitted during teaching; teaching and other staff may, however, move between groups. In common areas within the institutions, the rules on maximum gathering sizes and mixing between groups may be set aside, providing that face masks are worn.
- Practical classes, art teaching and clinical training may continue, with the same restrictions in force regarding numbers, even though it is not possible to observe the 2-metre distance rule; however, both students and teachers shall wear face masks.