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Sascha Lobo: Missing air filters in schools - How often can you fail grossly in a pandemic?


Many unvaccinated people have to sit together in large groups in closed rooms. The only concepts for them are based on the principle of ventilation. That could be different a long time ago.

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Primary school students in summer 2020: Not much has changed in schools since then

Photo: Marcel Kusch / picture alliance / dpa

For decades I was firmly convinced that one day my tombstone would read: It's not that simple.

With a few well-founded exceptions, I am of the opinion that there is far too little differentiation in the political debate.

With this stance in mind, I would now like to ask the approx. 1.3 current federal governments and their subordinate administrations:

How often can you fail grossly in a pandemic?

We are not talking about simple failure here, but royal failure with asterisks. The fourth, German corona wave is the definition of "homemade". Those interested in differentiated moderation will now say: Wait, it won't be that bad, will it? No, I think it's worse, and I want to carry out this anger because I think it's justified.

100,000 dead would be enough, but there is so much more. That communication about vaccination was so spectacularly screwed up. That the booster vaccination campaign, including the procurement of vaccines, has now been sensationally screwed up. That any mandatory vaccination was categorically ruled out at an early stage without any need, in order to throw a candy to tough vaccination opponents, which now leads to the fact that one will soon introduce a graduated mandatory vaccination and receive a gigantic problem of trust, and not only for people who have difficulties with the vaccination . That it is now being claimed that none of this could have been predicted, even though it was predicted exactly that way.

And that a few months ago we slipped into the third school year affected by Corona and that the present school concepts are still - I don't think so - are primarily based on the principle of ventilation.

This last point deserves closer attention, because almost all serious politicians say that vaccinations are the way out of the pandemic.

Conversely, this must mean that those who have not yet been able to be vaccinated, school children under twelve, for example, urgently need their own concepts.

Oh well.

I consider the failure of the still executive federal government in matters of pandemic in schools to be the great symbol of the German, political inability to deal with crises, from communication to organization. There are districts in Germany in which the incidence of 10 to 14 year old children is 4308 (Oberspreewald-Lausitz, Brandenburg). Exceeded almost only by the incidence in 5- to 9-year-old children, which is 4326 (there). Nationwide, the incidence in children between 5 and 14 is now 844, and the trend is rising steeply - but why is that so?

This is of course not an easy question, so let's start with a simple question.

In July 2021, the federal government provided the federal states responsible for education with 200 million euros for mobile air filters.


Please guess, dear audience, how much of it has been accessed so far?

That's right, the total amount of federal funding for mobile air filters that has been called up to date is an astonishing zero euros.


The funding conditions are outrageous

But wait, don't you have to differentiate here? Couldn't it be that the air filters are purchased first and then the funding is applied for? Yes, that is factually correct in some cases - but unfortunately there are many municipalities that finance schools who cannot pre-finance the air filters or who are unable to raise the required contribution. And even more catastrophic: The funding conditions are, to put it mildly, outrageous.

This is because only mobile air filters may be promoted in classrooms in which the windows, quote: "can only be tilted". Or that have "ventilation flaps with a minimal cross-section". And where there are children under the age of twelve. Because they can't be vaccinated yet. Greetings go out to the Stiko, which has in common with the Education Ministers Conference responsible for the school that both move at the speed of continental drift in times of the pandemic. In any case, the education ministries of the federal states estimate the number of classrooms that can be funded according to federal guidelines at ten percent. That means that there are some federal states in which there are comparatively many mobile air filters in daycare centers and schools. But the federal government has so far done little tobecause it launched an obviously unsuitable 200 million instrument. Pity!

more on the subject

Corona hotspots: What's next at the schools? By Armin Himmelrath

Here you could stop now, the justified outrage already exceeds the tolerable level. But wait, there's more. Because the basis for the protection of schools is a paper commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Education called "Living Guideline - Measures for the Prevention and Control of SARS-CoV-2 Transmission in Schools". Responsible for the development is - we are still here in Germany - a committee of over 35 experts from all possible fields and directions, including the health authorities of North Friesland, Reutlingen and Neukölln, the German Society for Educational Sciences and the main staff council for state teachers for integrated students Comprehensive schools in Rhineland Palatinate. So far, so German, to found a committee in situations of great urgency.

A committee year is seven human years, they say

The first version of the guideline, which is the most important basis for the action of the federal government, was presented in February 2021. It contained the sentence: »The use of mobile air purifiers in schools can be considered as a supplementary measure to ventilation for aerosol reduction, if fundamentally one Adequate ventilation can be guaranteed. ”That sounds oddly cautious, but the pandemic was only a year old in February, and a year like that goes by quickly, also because bodies behave contrary to dogs: a year is seven dog-years They say, but a committee year is seven human years.

In a few days, the updated version of the "Living Guideline" will be presented, and one might think that the much-discussed air filters now occupy an important place in the concept of measures of the central guideline of the federal government.

One could, but the total number of times the word »air filter« was mentioned in the new version is astonishing zero times.



Sascha Lobo

Reality shock: ten lessons from the present

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But wait, don't you have to differentiate here? Couldn't it be that there are other than maximally outrageous reasons behind it? Yes, that is theoretically factually correct, the “Tagesspiegel” researched it in depth and wrote an extremely differentiating article on it, quote: “The simple explanation is that the around 35 representatives from various professional societies and organizations [...] do not have a consensus via a formulation. «Uff. Unfortunately, the long explanation doesn't make it better, it somehow makes it worse. National school students: inside spokesman Dario Schramm was there and says: “The debate lasted more than six hours and was led very emotionally by some representatives. That was not productive and regrettable. "Supplemented by the insight of one of the organizers that the discussion had shown"That the difficulties within society to come to an agreement also impaired decision-making in the expert group."

It is enough for ministries and parliaments, but unfortunately not for schools

Translated, this means: The confusing discourse rubbish in social and some editorial media, i.e. the public, made the committee knights so heated that in the end nothing was decided with a hat when it came to air filters.

There was also a specific reason for the heat; so far there had only been "mathematical modeling" and no "systematic randomized and blinded studies" on the effectiveness of the air filter.

This is outrageous because it reveals two standards.

As early as August 2020 (yes, 2020) the Institute for Fluid Mechanics and Aerodynamics at the Bundeswehr University published a corresponding study: “As a result of the scientific investigations, it is clear that room air purifiers with a large volume flow and high-quality filters of class H14 are a very sensible technical solution in order to greatly reduce the indirect risk of infection from aerosols in schools, offices [...] lounges and dining rooms, etc. «This much-cited study was one of the foundations why parliaments, ministries and administrative buildings all over Germany purchased and installed mobile air filters are. Unfortunately, the database is not sufficient for schools. Pity!

And so it went on and on and on, the teacher portal »news4teachers« researched the background to the »air filter scandal« as early as February. Because they did not want to be satisfied with the declaration of the Federal Environment Agency that the "professional installation" contained feasibility problems. With a device that, according to the Institute for Fluid Mechanics and Aerodynamics, has the complexity of operation of a hair dryer. "Air purifiers could tempt you to feel as though you were wrong." Translated: Teachers are too mushy to ventilate despite strict instructions after the devices have been purchased. Pity!

But then what is the real reason why the most unvaccinated people of all are forced to squat on each other in the most closed rooms of all? Besides the catastrophic failure to make digital education widely available? There is an answer to that, and it is symptomatic of the country's failure to deal with the pandemic. A corresponding request to the federal government was answered by the Federal Ministry of Economics: »The UBA has […] formulated immediately applicable recommendations, the implementation of which does not depend on the lengthy, public procurement of possibly very cost-intensive devices that may no longer be needed after the pandemic Translated: ventilation is cheaper and you don't have to worry about it afterwards. So basically exactly as you would have guessed:In the end it comes down to responsibilities and money. Too bad.

Source: spiegel

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