Coronavirus update, LAB and LUT staff and students, 22 December 2021

Koronatiedote 22.12.2021

Coronavirus update, LAB and LUT staff and students, 22 December 2021

The Finnish Government decided on 21 December to impose additional restrictions to control the rapid spread of COVID. The restrictions aim to win time to give third doses of the vaccine.

The Government advises higher education institutions to transition to distance learning until 16 January. However, this does not apply to teaching where presence on campus is necessary. Essential contact teaching will take place according to our prioritisation plan from the start of the spring semester.

If we receive new national guidelines concerning higher education, we will inform you of them.

We will keep our campuses open to promote student well-being following our current practices. However, we will obligate everyone on our campuses and in our regional units to wear masks whenever safe distances are difficult to maintain.

New guideline on masks on campus 

Our assessment is that the difficulty of the epidemic and uncertainties related to the omicron variant increase the transmission risk on our campuses. We need to observe the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Universities of Applied Sciences Act and the Universities Act to ensure employee and student safety and health and the continuity of our activities. Therefore, we will introduce a temporary obligation to wear face masks.

Masks will be obligatory in laboratories and workshops, practical contact teaching where safe distances are impossible to maintain, other essential contact teaching during the current national restriction period, and paper-and-pen exams and electronic exams on campus.

The mask obligation will enter into force on 1 January 2022 and continue until 31 January 2022. The period may be extended if the elevated transmission risk continues. 

The obligation does not apply to people for whom the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare does not recommend masks: a mask should not be worn if it makes breathing unreasonably difficult or if other health reasons prevent it. 

We strongly advise wearing a mask also in other facilities and connections on campus. Wear a mask whenever you are not alone.  

Teaching arrangements 

Spring semester 2022 will start in accordance with the Finnish Government’s distance learning guidelines. You should prepare for the fact that the Government may need to prolong the distance learning period beyond 16 January 2022. 

LUT’s vice rector and LAB’s vice president for education will send prioritisation guidelines for contact teaching to people in charge of teaching on 22 December.

Essential contact teaching following the prioritisation plan will take place on campus. It especially includes teaching for first- and second-year students and practical teaching that requires special equipment. The prioritisation will be based on our previous practices during the pandemic.

Teaching spaces will be filled spaciously, enabling social distancing. Lectures on contact teaching courses will be recorded or streamed – teachers may decide which. Essential contact teaching will take place in the facilities currently assigned to them.

LAB’s faculty directors and LUT’s heads of degree programmes will coordinate detailed planning for the degree programmes together with programme directors. Teachers will inform students of course arrangements before courses start. 

We will provide information on LUT’s January and February graduation ceremonies in early January 2022.

Paper-and-pen exams will be held on campus as planned. We recommend utilising the electronic exam facilities and Moodle exams whenever possible.

Orientation for new students 

Orientation lectures will be held in hybrid mode. Guided tours on campus will be limited to groups of 20 people.

Events and outside visitors

We will limit the use of our campus facilities for events in accordance with the national distance learning recommendation until 16 January 2022.

Small-scale visits and events of up to 10 people may take place during this period.

Public examinations of dissertations are low-risk public events. Regional restrictions on gatherings apply to them. Restrictions on gatherings may be avoided by requiring guests to present an immunity passport.

International mobility

People arriving at our campuses and regional units from other countries must observe Finland’s border traffic guidelines. 

We strongly recommend all of LAB’s and LUT’s international students to get fully vaccinated in their home country before coming to Finland. International students arriving in Finland will receive separate instructions on the current entry restrictions.

The need for international travel should be carefully considered and the travel guidelines of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland observed. 

We recommend our international visitors to get fully vaccinated before visiting our campuses.

Business travel in Finland 

Carefully consider whether business travel within Finland is necessary. Take a train if possible. You may also drive your own car until the end of January 2022. 

Remote work recommendation continues 

The national remote work recommendation continues. You should work from home as much as your job duties allow. However, you do not need to ask your supervisor for permission to work on campus.

Regardless of the remote work recommendation, people will be working on our campuses and in our regional units when their duties require (laboratory work, simulations, on-site service provision). The remote work recommendation does not apply to necessary contact teaching on campus. 

Ten-person limit to campus sports facilities in Lahti 

The regional state administrative agency has decided to limit the use of customer facilities in the Päijät-Häme region. The decision applies to the recreational use of the campus gym and group fitness classes in Lahti. 

No more than ten people may be present in the campus sports facilities at a time. This restriction will apply starting 23 December. However, the educational use of the facilities is unrestricted.

Equivalent occupancy restrictions will continue in sports facilities on the Lappeenranta campus for the time being.