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Relaxation in schools


Test, vaccinate, test, vaccinate: The federal and state governments are raising high expectations with their concept for further school openings. Practitioners fear that these cannot be redeemed.

Icon: enlarge

Teacher with a negative rapid test (in a primary school in Neubiberg, Bavaria)

Photo: Peter Kneffel / dpa

There is a step-by-step plan for opening bookstores, flower shops and garden centers, for driving and flight schools, which is based on specific incidence figures.

The Prime Minister's Conference (MPK) discussed museums, galleries, zoological and botanical gardens on Wednesday evening.

Via sports, cinemas, theaters, concert and opera houses - and via the home office.

This time, however, the statements about the schools were rather short.

The MPK agreed that teachers and other employees at schools and daycare centers can now be vaccinated in the vaccination centers.

Like all students, they should receive a free quick test per attendance week.

And: The schools are to be gradually opened for further grades - as previously announced by the Conference of Ministers of Education.

Sounds good.

But how exactly all this is supposed to work is unclear to many people from practice.

The experiences of the past few weeks, in which the school openings do not run as smoothly as hoped, are too bad.

Rapid tests have been announced for too long without being implemented across the board.

It remains to be seen when there will be enough tests in all federal states.

In any case, it does not create enough confidence when it is said that a task force will first be set up to procure the new, easier-to-use self-tests.

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Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) said in the ARD morning magazine that he was assuming that, after a short transition phase, enough ordered tests would be available everywhere and that the test centers, which could then be set up, could also work with the tests.

"At some point and on a large scale, there will also be self-tests," he added, which are very helpful when used in schools, for example.

The fact that after a year of pandemic there should be talk of a transitional phase during the easing is a cause of criticism.

It would be ideal if you first had a proper test strategy and then decided on further opening steps, says Heinz-Peter Meidinger, President of the German Teachers' Association.

One quick test a week in schools is not enough, there should be at least two to make schools safer, he told SPIEGEL.

In any case, it is important to "give full throttle when vaccinating and testing teachers".

The "emergency brake" that Angela Merkel brought into play for retail should also apply to schools, said Meidinger.

If the incidence is over 100, face-to-face lessons should no longer be possible, if the incidence is over 50, alternating lessons should be offered, and if the incidence is below 50, face-to-face lessons can be given.

The Association of Education and Upbringing (VBE) also considers one test a week to be too little: »We have asked everyone involved in school to be tested at least twice a week - by trained staff.

We now get: once a week rapid tests «, it says in a statement.

That creates "a rather dangerous pseudo-security".

"The vaccination is making slow progress, the infrastructure for testing has not yet been created."

Udo Beckmann, Association of Education and Upbringing

In addition, the decision would once again raise expectations from politicians that could not be met.

Conditions for further openings were not created at all.

»There will probably only be sufficient rapid tests after Easter.

That means that further openings can only be implemented if the infection rate in schools is to remain controllable, ”says Udo Beckmann, the VBE federal chairman.

The association had repeatedly emphasized in the past few weeks that there had to be a triad of vaccination, testing and hygiene rules.

Beckmann criticized: "The vaccination is only progressing slowly, the infrastructure for testing has not yet been created."

Hygiene rules could only meaningfully be adhered to in alternating lessons.

»The prospect of major easing steps in schools now raises expectations among parents and students that we cannot implement at school.

The school administrators and teachers suffer, who have to answer the open questions but do not receive any answers from politics, «said Beckmann.

The Education and Science Union (GEW) has also expressed disappointment at the top-level meeting between the federal states and the federal states.

"The federal states continue to open schools and daycare centers as they want - without creating the necessary prerequisites," criticized the GEW chairman Marlis Tepe in the editorial network Germany.

"If you want to open schools and daycare centers, you have to test and vaccinate," stressed Tepe.

However, according to the announcements that have now been made, rapid tests for teachers and students should not come until April and tests should then only be carried out once a week.

This is "too rare to effectively protect everyone's health," warned the union leader.

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"There is also no vaccination strategy," Tepe criticized.

"Vaccination offers for teachers at secondary schools are still a long time coming, although the federal states also want to gradually open these facilities despite rising incidence values ​​and the growing risk of corona mutations."

Anke Staar, chairwoman of the state parents' conference in North Rhine-Westphalia, is also not very enthusiastic about the results of the new federal-state round.

She told SPIEGEL that it actually doesn't really matter what the MPK decides: Schools have to offer reliable long-term offers for all pupils - regardless of the number of infections.

But that only works if they are made safer.

"Our children not only have the right to education, care, support, therapy, but also the right to maximum health protection." Ventilation and testing alone are not enough, they can do more.

It is not just the frequency of testing that is controversial - there are also different views on who should be tested and where.

Medical associations indicated that the negative psychological effects of repeated testing on young children are underestimated.

They warned against widespread testing of asymptomatic children and advocated a "comprehensive strategy" to test teachers and other staff who had contact with students.

Rapid tests should "only be offered by trained staff in suitable settings (eg test centers, pharmacies)" and should be scientifically monitored and evaluated closely, according to a statement by the professional association of paediatricians (BVKJ).

This is the only way to avert damage that could result from false-negative tests, i.e. a false sense of security, or false-positive tests, i.e. unnecessary isolation.

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However, there is even greater concern about greater harm to children if the state of emergency in schools lasts longer.

The Leipzig education researcher Nina Kolleck told SPIEGEL that children should be given more attention again.

"The previous strategy has clearly shown that school closings are at the expense of children and adolescents, increase educational inequality and, above all, lead to a massive increase in psychological problems and domestic violence."

Even the Prime Minister of Baden-Württemberg Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) said in an interview with the "Mannheimer Morgen" newspaper that he feared that deep damage had occurred in the education and the psyche of the children.

“We have to take more care of these children when classes are back to normal.

It's going to be a big task. «According to the Prime Minister, the teachers first have to get an overview of the gaps that have arisen in distance learning.

"To remedy the deficits, additional support offers and special programs are needed," said Kretschmann.

Special forms of tutoring are also necessary.

With another idea that played no role in the results of the federal-state summit, Kretschmann rushed ahead in the interview: "You could cut something on the holidays to catch up on lessons," said the head of the Green government.

Icon: The mirror

with material from dpa and AFP

Source: spiegel

All life articles on 2021-03-04

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