Practical instructions of the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences in the exceptional circumstances

17.3.2020
This page contains the latest practical instructions for staff and students issued by the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences in the exceptional circumstances caused by the coronavirus outbreak. We will update the page as needed. Please note that the University’s general instructions will not be reposted on this page. You can check the latest information on the University’s website at www.helsinki.fi/en.

This page was updated on 23 June 2020,
at 11.50:  added a link to instructions about teaching in the autumn. 

Please note that the University’s continuously updated general instructions on the page Coronavirus situation at the University of Helsinki will not be reposted on this page.

See latest on Flamma (for staff only, requires a sign-in)

Dean's message to the personnel

Working at the University’s premises during the corona virus situation

See the latest information: 

Please do remember that as a rule, everyone, including Ph.D students and post docs do not work on-site. University’s staff is telecommuting. This is the rule during the exceptional situation regarding all work at the University of Helsinki premises. 

The only exception to the rule is the absolutely necessary work that needs to be done for research material maintenance and similar data or material collection from experiments that were started before the corona restrictions, and the material needs to be collected or treated during the restriction. Please note that no new experiments can be started. 

Research can not continue in a business as usual mode

Only the absolutely critical research work can be done. This means such work where the material would be completely lost if not carried out now. This is the only reason for working in the lab now. There are no other excuses. 

For example, initiating a new experiment because that is needed for a manuscript or Ph.D. thesis is not a compelling reason to do experiments if that can be done later.

Anything than can be done after a week or after a month easily should not be done now during the exceptional situation. If you have any questions, please turn to your reseaerch program leader.

Participation in research activities outside the University in the exceptional circumstances

In the prevailing exceptional circumstances, research work is carried out remotely. Field research or other out-of-home research may be performed subject to general safety precautions and the following restrictions:

  • Equipment used for research can be retrieved from the University's premises with the permission of your supervisor and following the general guidelines of the University and the authorities to avoid the risk of infection.
  • Travel is not recommended according to general guidelines. If the research location is located in the vicinity of the place of residence, it is advisable to travel there primarily alone and not in a group, or with public transports. If this is not possible, the passangers must be able to keep a distance of at least one meter between them. It is not possible to travel to the University's research stations (excl. Research activities defined as critical with separate Faculty instructions).
  • Field work must not be carried out in groups of more than four people.
  • Under no circumstances should people belonging to risk groups, or if they have symptoms associated with an infection, or are otherwise ill, participate in the research.
  • Please note; these guidelines only apply to research work. All contact teaching and student contact supervision are prohibited for the time being.

Teaching arrangements

Teachers: See University’s Guidelines: The Effect of Coronavirus on Teaching: Questions and Answers.

See the latest information on Flamma (requires a sing-in):

Students: Fifteen courses to be provided by the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences during the fourth teaching period have been cancelled because distance learning cannot be offered. Approximately 40 courses are continuing or will be provided using distance teaching. Detailed lists of cancelled courses and those available for distance learning, together with relevant instructions, can be found as follows:    

Q & A 

Q: Whom can I contact at the Faculty if I have questions about the impact of the exceptional circumstances on my work?
A: After reading the University’s general, continuously updated instructions for corona virus situation, you should primarily contact your immediate supervisor. If the Faculty has made a decision or issued guidelines on the matter, you should follow updates on this page. 

Q: Several recruitment processes are currently underway. How should we proceed in the exceptional circumstances?
A: All interviews and teaching demonstrations will be postponed and held simultaneously once the situation is over. 

Q: If the opponent selected for the public examination of a doctoral thesis must be replaced due to the exceptional circumstances, who makes this decision?
A: The selection of a new opponent requires a dean’s decision.

Q: How will the Faculty’s teaching be provided now that the University’s general guidelines specify that distance teaching is to be used as of 18 March?
A: Fifteen courses to be provided by the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences during the fourth teaching period have been cancelled because distance learning cannot be offered. Approximately 40 courses are continuing or will be provided using distance teaching. Detailed lists of cancelled courses and those available for distance learning, together with relevant instructions, can be found on the student instructions page, see at   

Q: Can a researcher work on campus during an emergency? 
A: As a rule, the University staff will telecommute, unless previously agreed otherwise with regard to your duties. Working in the University premises must be agreed with the supervisor, who must, in turn, inform their supervisor and, if necessary, confirm the conditions of work with them. In addition, if you need to be present in the workplace to perform a specific task, you can agree on this with your supervisor.

Biological stations

See the release of 26 March 2020: Kilpisjärvi biological station will be closed for now. (requires a sign-in to Flamma)

The biological station of Lake Kilpisjärvi will remain closed until 31 May. In June, the station will start to follow the guidelines of the University and Faculty for research stations.

Significant restrictions on station travel have been introduced. The purpose of the measures is to prevent the spread of the disease to these remote sites. Only necessary research is allowed in the stations. These actions are decided by the university's top management. Related team leaders have been informed about this. In these cases, work at the stations should primarily be performed by those who are already at the station or whose workstation is at the station. Otherwise, a voluntary quarantine of 14 days may be required before the facilities of the station can be used. These cases should be discussed and agreed with the station manager.

Q: How should the research stations prepare for cases of illness?
A: The stations should designate a separate facility for those who fall ill. If possible, this facility should enable the affected individuals to cook or heat food. The facility should not be booked for other uses for the duration of the exceptional circumstances at the University.

Q: Can research station facilities be offered to third parties during the exceptional circumstances?
A: No. All external workshops, seminars, public events and similar activities must be cancelled if booked for the period from 18 March to 31 May.

Q: Can researchers go to the stations for research work?
A: Only necessary research can be done according to agreement. These are e.g. spring related  samples taking that need to be carried out at this particular point of time, and which can't be done any other point of time, and if skipped caused considerable damage to the research. Please agree the arrangements with station managers.

Q: Can the stations welcome external visitors on holiday? 
A: No. As the aim is to secure the core duties of the stations, external visits have been banned.

For more information:
Coronavirus situation at the University of Helsinki

Dean Jaakko Kangasjärvi
Vice Dean of Resarch Minna Nyström
Vice Dean of Teaching Helena Åström
Vice Dean of Societal interaction Atte Korhola
Biological research stations, Director Jouni Heiskanen