At least 3,240 schools in 14 out of 16 states are no longer able to offer in-person classes, according to figures from the Funke Mediengruppe, mostly due to coronavirus quarantine measures.
That means that a teacher or pupil either has the virus – or has been reported to come into contact with someone who has it.
Hesse and Bremen did not report any figures because their schools already partially or completely operate through distance learning.
More than 300,000 pupils throughout Germany are currently in coronavirus quarantine, according to estimates from the German Teachers’ Association released on Wednesday.
The number of teachers in quarantine is currently as high as 30,000.
How many schools have shut down?
In North Rhine-Westphalia, a total of 552 schools have sent their pupils into quarantine.
In Bavaria, 255 schools have shut their doors, and in Baden-Württemberg 273 schools have also closed.
In Lower Saxony, 347 schools have completely or partially closed due to quarantine measures. The state already has a rotating teaching model, in which students take turns coming into classes. There are also 213 schools in Hamburg which are no longer offering regular classes.
In Thuringia, 109 schools are currently affected by quarantine measures, 216 in Rhineland-Palatinate, 170 in Brandenburg and 120 in Saxony-Anhalt.
Additionally, 71 schools in Schleswig-Holstein, 128 in Saarland and 170 in Saxony and 30 in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania also partially or fully closed. In Berlin a total of 365 are affected.
Germany-wide there are around 40,000 schools with 11 million pupils and 800,000 teachers.
Ninth-grade students wearing masks in a Bavarian classroom. Photo: DPA
‘A great achievement’
Despite the closures, Alexander Lorz, the Minister of Education and Cultural Affairs of Hesse, said on Wednesday evening on ZDF-“heute journal” that 95 percent of pupils in his state continued to attend school regularly.
“Under the conditions we are currently experiencing in this pandemic, this is a great achievement,” said the politician from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU).
Distance learning could not fully compensate for face-to-face teaching, he said, meaning that a balance had to be struck between infection prevention on the one hand and the schools' educational mission on the other.
Coronavirus protection measures such as mask wearing outside of the classroom and frequently opening windows still don’t stretch far enough, said to Marlis Tepe, President of the Education and Science Union (GEW).
“The way classes are taught at the moment, the health risks for pupils and teachers are too high,” the GEW leader told the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND) and called for classes to be better split up into rotating learning groups.
“One group each would then be at school and one at home,” said Tepe.
For the pupils, it would better to divide classes which are spaced out and thus maintain distances in class than to risk that more and more classes would have to be completely quarantined.
Economic expert warns against further closures
Veronika Grimm, member of the Federal Government's Council of Experts on Economic Development, warned against a further reduction in in-person classes.
“This would have a significant impact on the future opportunities of young people”, the economist told RND.
“If schools and day-care centres are closed, many employees will only have limited access to companies. This will be quite significant effect in terms of economic development.”
Parents in Germany: Are you satisfied with the way your school(s) has handled the coronavirus? What do you think schools could do better to both protect students and continue classes? Let us know in the comments or at [email protected]. We would be happy to include your thoughts in an upcoming article.