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Explained: What are Denmark’s Covid-19 guidelines for the new school year?

The Danish Health Authority has issued new coronavirus guidelines for the start of the new school year on Monday. We explain what has changed and what restrictions remain?

Explained: What are Denmark's Covid-19 guidelines for the new school year?
Pupils at Amager Fælled Skole on their return to the classroom in March this year. Photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

Isn’t there a risk that infections will spike after children return? 

Absolutely. After the new guidelines were released, Søren Brostsrøm, the authority’s director, said that he expected a resurgence in infections after pupils return to school. 

“There’s no doubt that infection will increase in Danish society, partly because we are opening up institutions and workplaces and partly because we are changing our contact patterns when we come home from holiday,” he told the broadcaster TV2

But he said that the high number of vaccinated people meant that higher levels of infection could be tolerated. 

“We are doing this first and foremost because we have a massively high vaccine coverage in Denmark, especially among the elderly and vulnerable, who are the ones at risk of becoming seriously ill.” 

“We are raising the threshold without letting go of the reins, so hopefully we will have a relatively normal school year.” 

What’s the big change? 

The biggest change is that classes will no longer be sent home, or their schools closed, if one of their classmates tests positive for coronavirus.

Pupils will now only be sent home if there are “major outbreaks or other special situations”.

This will be the case, for example, if more than 30 to 40 people at the school are infected, if there is a super-spreading event at the school, or if there are new and particularly worrying coronavirus variants among those infected.

Schools must contact the Danish Agency for Patient Safety for advice before sending a class or school home. 

“We would very much like to help get schooling back to normal as it was before the coronavirus epidemic,” said Andreas Rudkjøbing, a doctor at the authority in a press release announcing the new guidelines. “Therefore, our priority is to ensure that the schools remain open as far as possible.” 

In addition, pupils will no longer be considered to have been “in close contact” with an infected person simply because they are in the same class. They will need to have been less than one metre away for more than 15 minutes. 

What restrictions are still in place? 

On June 11th, Denmark removed most of the restrictions which had been placed on schools since they returned after the first lockdown in April 2020. 

But schools and kindergartens are still encouraged to follow the authority’s general infection prevention recommendations. These are: 
  • Get vaccinated
  • Stay home and get tested if you get symptom
  • Keep distance
  • Ventilate and create draft
  • Wash your hands often or use rubbing alcohol
  • Clean, especially surfaces that many people touch
Students and school staff are also advised to be tested for coronavirus twice a week if they are over the age of 12 and have yet to be fully vaccinated. 
What counts as “contact” with an infected person?
Pupils will count as having been in “close contact” and will need to stay home if they have been less than one metre away from someone who tests positive for more than 15 minutes. 
This is extended to two metres if the pupils have been engaged in activities with strong exhalation such as singing, loud speech or shouting, activities that involve physical exertion, or have been together in enclosed places with poor ventilation. 
In kindergartens, children who share a room will all be considered close contacts. 
Pupils will also need to stay home if someone they live with tests positive. 
Close contacts of infected people should go into self-isolation and get tested on day four and day six after they have been contact. They can leave self-isolation ten days after the onset of symptoms, after two fever-free days, or after a positive test. 
It will be up to the leadership of schools and kindergartens to decide if anyone counts as an “other contact”, who has not been in close contact, but should still get tested, even if vaccinated. “Other contacts” do not need to self-isolate.  
What happens if a pupil or member of staff develops coronavirus symptoms while at school? 
According to the new guidelines, they should be kept separate from other pupils or staff members until they can be picked up and taken home, with everything they touch cleaned afterwards. 
Under Danish law pupils under the age of 15 cannot be tested for coronavirus without parental consent, so if a test is to be caried out by the school, pupils’ parents must be asked first. 
If parents do not want A child to be tested, they child should go into self-isolation until 48 hours after their symptoms cease
What should schools do if one or more pupils or members of staff test positive? 
Schools and kindergartens are advised to contact their local municipal health service for advice, and to then detgermine whether the infected person has been present at the institution during their “infection period”. 
The Danish Agency for Patient Safety may then contact the institution with information on infection tracking and measures to prevent further outbreaks. 
If the infected person has been present, everything they have touched should be cleaned, areas they have been in should be ventilated. 
Pupils and staff should be reminded of basic hygiene recommendations. 

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For members


The Danish vocabulary parents need to know for back-to-school season

Parents around the country will be preparing for their children's return to school – or perhaps their very first term – over the next few weeks. Here are the crucial pieces of Danish vocabulary that will help international families navigate the school year.

The Danish vocabulary parents need to know for back-to-school season
A teacher and her pupils at a Danish school. Photo:

Types of schools

Most pupils in Denmark go to a folkeskole (folkeskoler in plural), literallypeople’s school”. These cover the entire span of the country’s compulsory education system from age six to age 16, so all of primary and and lower secondary school. 

About 18 percent of Danish school pupils are, however, educated at privately run friskoler, or “free schools”, which might include small village schools in the tradition  These might include the Grundtvig-koldske friskoler (small, rural independent schools based on the ideas of the ideas of the Danish educationalist Nikolaj Grundtvig), private grundskoler (which tends to refer to more academically minded institutions in the big cities), Rudolf Steiner-skoler (schools based on the ideas of Rudolf Steiner) , lilleskoler (small schools), flersprogede friskoler (multilingual schools), or religiøse friskoler (religious schools for children with Jewish, Muslim, or other religious backgrounds. 

Before attending schools, children can attend a vuggestue (kindergarten for 0 to 3-year-olds) and then a børnehave (kindergarten for 3 to 6-year-olds), both of which are a type of daginstitution. There are also dagpleje, where children are looked after in the private homes of the kindergarten teachers. 

Between the ages of 14 and 18, pupils can attend an efterskole, or “after school”, a unique Danish institution of voluntary independent residential schools which tend to have a more liberal approach to education, and typically a focus on a set of subjects, such as sports, cooking, media, animation, theatre, music, or dance.

From the autumn of the year a child is six, they attend børnehaveklasse (preschool class), which is a compulsory one-year transition between børnehave and folkeskole.

What are the subjects you can study at folkeskole

Students study Dansk (Danish), Kristendomskundskab (Christian knowledge), Idræt (sport), and Matematik (maths) in all ten classes or grades, which are called klassetrin

From the first to the sixth grade they study Musik (music) and Billedkunst (painting and drawing), Natur (natural sciences) or teknik (technology). From the thrid to the ninth grade, they study Engelsk (English), with the option of Tysk (German), from the seventh grade. From the seventh grade, pupils can also study Geografi (Geography), Biologi (biology), Fysik (Physics), or Kemi (chemistry). 

How does the school year work? 

Skolestart, the start of the school year, is at the start of the efterårssemester or “Autumn term”, which is broken up in mid-October by a one-week efterårsferie, or “Autumn half-term”. Then there’s the vinterferie or juleferie (Winter or Christmas holidays), forårssemester (spring holiday), Påskeferie (Easter holidays), and the Sommerferie (summer holidays). 

At the start of term, your child might receive a tidsplan (timetable) or even an Individuel studieplan (individual study plan), showing what they are studying that year.  


Children at Danish schools are all required to have a skoletaske, a backpack or satchel. They will also need a gymnastikposer, or gym bag, as well as a penalhus (pencilcase) penne (pens), blyanter, (pencils) and a blyantspidser (pencil sharpener).  

What happens after folkeskole? 

After folkeskole, students can opt for one of the four types of gymnasiale uddannelser (upper secondary education).

These include:

The Hhx-uddannelsen, which is focused on preparing students for business careers, is normally given at a handelsgymnasium, or “business gymnasium”, and ends with the merkantil studentereksamen (literally the mercantile student exam). 

The Hf-uddannelsen, which is a general upper secondary school education, teaching a broad range of subjects. Pupils can choose to focus on naturvidenskabelige faggruppe (science subjects) or theKultur- og samfundsfagsgruppen (culture and society group). The stream ends with the højere forberedelseseksamen, Higher Preparatory Examination.

The Stx-uddannelsen, a science-focused upper secondary education, which ends with thestudentereksamen, the Danish upper secondary leaving certificate. 

The Htx-uddannelsen, which is focused on preparing students for technological higher education and ends with the teknisk studentereksamen.