Karliczek for mandatory mask in schools

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In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the new school year begins at the beginning of the week under pandemic conditions. Other federal states will follow shortly. Politicians and teachers have mixed feelings about starting school.


Federal Minister of Education Anja Karliczek (CDU) pleads for a mask requirement in schools. (Image: dpa)

After the summer holidays, the pupils in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and on some islands in Schleswig-Holstein are the first nationwide to start the new school year on Monday.

Other federal states will follow in the next few days with everyday school life under corona conditions. Federal Education Minister Anja Karliczek (CDU) spoke out in favor of a mask requirement in school buildings. The association of cities and municipalities also relies on wearing masks at schools.

Classroom instruction only possible if certain rules are observed

It is understandable “if countries want to forego distance rules in schools, because the spatial conditions would otherwise only allow limited attendance classes,” said Karliczek of the “Welt am Sonntag”. “Nevertheless, classroom instruction will only work if further regulations on hygiene, wearing protective masks and keeping clear of the school playground and in the hallways are strictly observed.”

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The chief executive of the city and community federation, Gerd Landsberg, told the newspapers of the Funke media group (online Sunday / print Monday), especially at schools, distance, mask requirement “as far as necessary” and regular hand hygiene are the only means of protecting yourself and another.

Several federal states such as Berlin, Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg have already announced that they will be required to wear a mask in school buildings to combat the corona virus. However, it should not apply in the classroom. In other countries such as North Rhine-Westphalia there is talk of voluntary mask requirements, or – as in Hesse or Saxony – it is at the discretion of the schools.

The new school year begins in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania on Monday

This Monday, almost 153,000 schoolchildren in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern start the new school year. Around 13,900 first graders were enrolled on Saturday. At events, they met their teacher and took their place in the classroom for the first time. School starts on Monday is also on the Halligen and several other islands in Schleswig-Holstein. Hamburg follows on Thursday. The following week it starts in Berlin, Brandenburg, North Rhine-Westphalia and the rest of Schleswig-Holstein.

Despite the corona pandemic, schools are expected to return to normal operations after the holidays. Mecklenburg-West Pomerania’s Minister of Education Bettina Martin (SPD) was optimistic that this would succeed. “Tourism, restaurants and even gyms have been reopening long ago without any major problems,” she told Welt am Sonntag.

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The state chairman of the teachers’ union VBE, Michael Blanck, spoke on Saturday, however, of “belly grumbling” of the colleagues in view of rising infection numbers and growing carelessness in society. Even with consistent compliance with all hygiene rules in schools, it is clear to the teachers “that after and even before school there will be a mixture of the groups, which are strictly separated in schools,” said Blanck.

Corona tests required in schools

Landsberg meanwhile demanded corona tests in schools. The countries are “well advised to test teachers, but also schoolchildren, at least on a random basis, on a regular basis in order to identify possible new infection events at an early stage and to interrupt the infection chains,” he said.

The Green Group leader Katrin Göring-Eckardt criticized that schools are largely not yet well prepared for digital lessons in the event that they have to close again. There is “acute need for action”, she warned in a letter published on Sunday to Chancellor Helge Braun (CDU). Goering-Eckardt called for an “emergency plan” for a school digital offensive. For example, funds from the digital pact should be used in an unbureaucratic manner, teachers should receive training offers, as well as business digital devices, and children can borrow free devices for distance learning. The federal government should also set up a parent-teacher hotline with digital coaches for home lessons.

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