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BIRTH

Germans turn to Star Wars for baby names

Every year, hobby researcher Knud Bielefeld rifles through hundreds of thousands of names to identify the most popular choices of German parents.

Germans turn to Star Wars for baby names
File photo: DPA

This year, Bielefeld based his calculations on 183,396 registered births from 512 authorities across Germany – roughly 26 percent of the total number of children born over the whole year.

It's not a definitive ranking – as the one released by the Society for the German Language a few months into the following year is based on the complete data.

But it's a snapshot of at least some parents' thinking as the year draws to a close.

And it's a very familiar roster, with Mia ending Emma's brief reign as number-one name for girls to regain the top spot she had previously held for five years.

Meanwhile, Ben continues to defend his five-year title as champion boys' name.

“Little changes from year to year,” Bielefeld said on Wednesday.

But he's anticipating that some new monikers could get a boost thanks to the cultural event of the year – the new Star Wars movie.

“I'm excited to see where the name Finn gets to,” Bielefeld said, referring to British star John Boyega's character in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Finn has already reached place five in the 2015 table – although Bielefeld himself hopes more parents will plump for naming their little boys after bad-guy Kylo, especially since ''y' is trendy with young parents”.

Meanwhile, Germans might be revealing a special love for Shakira with the rapid rise of Milan, now at place 35 in Bielefeld's chart.

The singer named her own son Milan in 2013 and it has been growing in popularity ever since.

Mila, meanwhile, hit tenth place for girls this year.

And the biggest upset of the year came in Bavaria, where regional statistics showed that Maximilian lost his traditional top spot among boys to Lucas/Lukas.

But the prize for the most unique name – perhaps inspired by the opening of the Grimm museum this year – goes to little “Gretchen Schneewittchen” (Gretchen Snow White).

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EDUCATION

Schools around Germany reopen as Covid numbers sink

As coronavirus figures continue to fall around Germany, several states are again opening schools in full force. Here’s where - and when - in-person classes are resuming again.

Schools around Germany reopen as Covid numbers sink
Elementary shcool pupils in Hanover returned to the classroom on Monday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Julian Stratenschulte

On Monday, the countrywide 7-day incidence dropped to 35.1 per 100,000 residents, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). The RKI reported 1,978 new cases in the last 24 hours, down from 2,682 a week before. 

In light of the lower numbers, many states have decided to end distance learning and alternating classes, and to return to regular classroom operations.

This marks the first time in several months – in some cases since November – that primary and secondary pupils have been able to return to full instruction.

However, mandatory face masks and coronavirus tests at least twice a week still apply to all pupils.

Where and when are schools reopening?

Germany’s most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia is reopening schools with face-to-face instruction across the board on Monday.

Lower Saxony, Saarland and Hamburg are also returning to normal operation across class levels in most state regions. 

In Brandenburg, this initially applies only to elementary schools. The only exception is the city of Brandenburg/Havel, where the numbers are still considered to be too high. In a week’s time, the secondary schools are to follow suit. 

In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the state with the lowest 7-day incidence nationwide (14.9 as of Monday), students began returning to classes on Thursday. 

Berlin, on the other hand, plans to stick with the alternating classes – where different groups of students attend on different days – until the summer vacations, which begin June 24th.

The capital’s mayor Michael Müller (SPD) recently pointed out that the incidence among students in the capital was higher than the average. 

Rhineland-Palatinate is also taking a cautious approach. Following the end of school holidays in a week, pupils will have two more weeks of rotating classes before everyone returns for face-to-face instruction.

From June 7th in Bavaria, if the 7-day incidence remains stable below 50, face-to-face teaching is planned everywhere. Previously this was only the case at elementary schools and some special schools. 

In Baden-Württemberg, elementary schools are to return to face-to-face instruction if the 7-day incidences remain stable between 50 and 100. 

From June 11th, this is also to apply to all students in grade five and above who are currently still in alternating instruction.

What’s the reaction?

Not everyone is happy with the way schools are reopening. On Monday the Federal Parents’ Council criticised the different approaches taken by the states. 

“It’s like it has been since the outbreak of the pandemic: each state does what it wants,” complained chairwoman Sabrina Wetzel in a statement. “We demand a uniform line on openings as well.”

For parents, the different regulations from state to state are difficult to understand, she said, adding that “it’s also unfair to the children”.

READ ALSO: German teachers call for uniform Covid rules in schools nationwide

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