Kiel/Schwerin/Hamburg (dpa) – It starts again for children and young people in three federal states: Going to school under Corona conditions. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Schleswig-Holstein will start next Monday, Hamburg will follow on Thursday.
Many classmates will meet, as all three countries start with face-to-face lessons. How it progresses depends on the development of the corona figures – and they are currently rising steadily, albeit at a low level. Representatives of parents and teachers are under no illusions. “In the foreseeable future there will also be alternate and distance learning in the new school year,” says Sabrina Wetzel of the board of the Federal Parents’ Council. The chairman of the German Teachers’ Association, Heinz-Peter Meidinger, emphasizes: “We will have to take into account an increasing number of infections and will therefore need safety measures for months.”
Back to schools
Classes must be full at the start of school. All three countries are starting face-to-face education, even though compulsory education in the Hanseatic city remains suspended for the time being. For example, students with an increased health risk or who do not want to be tested can continue to study at home.
Mouth and nose caps are also a familiar sight in the classroom in the new school year. Hamburg sticks to the mask requirement in the buildings. Schleswig-Holstein adheres to the requirement to wear a face mask indoors for the first three weeks; This is no longer mandatory in school playgrounds. The students in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania must wear a mask for the first two weeks in class, later only when the state’s own corona warning light, which is based on multiple values about the infection rate, lights up orange.
Schleswig-Holstein wants to make vaccination easy for older students. According to Education Minister Karin Prien (CDU), from August 19, students from the age of twelve and all employees of the mobile teams of the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians at the 250 locations of community schools and grammarians can be vaccinated against the corona virus. schools. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania wants to send mobile vaccination teams for 16 and 17-year-olds to schools in the second week, the need must be determined in advance. Hamburg does not plan vaccination offers in schools.
In Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg, the following applies to both teachers and students: those who have not been vaccinated or recovered must test twice a week. In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, students and unvaccinated teachers must be tested twice a week. Teacher representative Meidinger would like keyboard shortcuts every day, but at least three times a week. Parent representative Wetzel warns that tests must be taken in schools outside school hours. ‘Otherwise such a thing eats up a lesson every time.’
Learning under difficult circumstances has pushed many students back. Schleswig-Holstein is trying to fill the gaps with a year-round “learning opportunities programme”. 20,000 education vouchers have been issued for weaker students, 1,500 of which have been requested so far.
During the summer holidays, there were 1,100 holiday learning groups in Hamburg to help schoolchildren make up for the learning delays caused by pandemics. Last year the offer was only open to students with a corresponding need during the summer and autumn holidays, now everyone could make use of it. The government extended the project with another five study holidays – until the end of 2022.
According to Education Minister Bettina Martin (SPD), Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania wants to determine the learning level in the first weeks of school. In closing the gaps, the country hopes for student teachers and retired teachers who will be asked to provide support in the schools. There is also money for private lessons.
Disputes remain about the opportunities and benefits of air purification equipment and systems. The federal funding criteria are very strict, notes Schleswig-Holstein Minister Karin Prien (CDU). For example, only areas that cannot or are poorly ventilated are eligible. This is also criticized by teacher representative Meidinger, for whom the federal program came too late. He fears that at most one in ten of the 650,000 classrooms in Germany will be equipped with mobile air filters at the start of school.
Parent representative Wetzel warns against too high expectations. “In particular, stationary systems that potentially remove virus-laden air and passively transport new air are good, but also expensive to install.” Mobile fans, on the other hand, which also cause a certain amount of noise pollution, must be placed correctly and expert advice is required. Without masks, regular ventilation and compliance with hygiene rules, it is not possible.
Meanwhile, Hamburg is speeding up: By the fall break, which starts on October 4, there should be an air filter system in every classroom. In Mecklenburg-West Pomerania there is a funding program for air filter equipment and CO2 measuring equipment, with most school authorities relying on the latter.
Wetzel draws a mixed balance. “Unfortunately, the supply of digital devices to students is not as advanced as it should be,” she says, referring to the entire country. Not all funds have been used up and some schools still lack wifi. For teachers there is a need for compulsory further training in digital distance learning. Meidinger reports: “The teachers have become significantly better at handling video conferencing and digital tools.” But he complains that nearly half of schools still don’t have high-speed internet.
The bottom line is that today we are a little further along than in the summer of 2020, says Meidinger. “Compared to the situation a year ago, we now have more tools such as shortcut keys to increase safety in schools.” Before the new school year, Wetzel wants the government not to make general decisions about school closures. “Some schools have really good safeguards in place, others don’t – that should play a role.”