| 12.03.2021

Helsinki GSE: Preliminary results regarding the impact of distance learning on corona infection

On 12 March 2016, Helsinki GSE published a report which, with the help of Finnish register material, analyses the connection between the transition to distance education in the second stage and the prevalence of coronavirus infection in Finland at the end of 2020.

In the spring of 2020, Finland closed primary and lower secondary schools for two months due to the covid-19 pandemic. The aim of switching to distance education was to limit the spread of coronavirus infection, but it has been unclear how well this measure has contributed to the prevention of infection. The question of the connection between distance education and corona infection became relevant again, when in March 2021, Finland switched to distance education for at least three weeks in both upper and secondary education.

The research report deals with the prevalence of coronavirus infection in adolescents aged 16–18 years and investigates the connection between distance education in the second stage and the prevalence of coronavirus infection. With the help of various groups of comparison, the report assesses the connection between distance education and corona among adolescents 16–18 years of age and their family members.

The results of the report suggest that the incidence of corona infection among young people aged 16–18 and their family members decreased significantly after the period of distance education in municipalities that made the switch, combined with other restrictions introduced at the same time. 

“It should be kept in mind that these results are preliminary and that no strong conclusions can be drawn about the effects of distance education on the basis of them. However, it is clear that the incidence of infection in the municipalities that switched to distance education decreased significantly after the transition, while in the comparative municipalities no clear change in incidence can be seen during the review period ", says the research group leader, Professor Mika Kortelainen at Turku University.

However, the report does not find that the number of infections among 16–18-year-olds had decreased more than among 13–15-year-olds who were not covered by distance education.

“Also, we did not find differences in the incidence of infection in the parents of young people aged 16–18 years or 13–15 years after the transition to distance education, even though the infections decreased in both groups. Something that requires further research is precisely the assessment of how big the effects of distance education are, and we will continue to explore this during the spring”, says doctoral student Jussipekka Salo from the University of Helsinki.

You can read more about the report and its results on the Helsinki GSE website .

Further information:
Mika Kortelainen
+358 50 308 2642
mika.kortelainen@utu.fi

Jussipekka Salo
+358 40 752 4561
jussipekka.salo@helsinki.fi