State by State: What’s happening with schools and Kitas during Germany’s lockdown?

State by State: What's happening with schools and Kitas during Germany's lockdown?
Younger students peer into the windows to watch older students still in school in Hamburg on Wednesday. Photo: DPA
Officially schools around Germany were set to close at the start of the stricter shutdown on Wednesday. However, the rules vary widely state to state.

In some states, schools closed completely on Wednesday, whereas in others, coming to the classroom was no longer required but still an option.

Here's an overview of what most of Germany's states are doing amid the extended shutdown, set to last from Wednesday until January 10th.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: These are Germany's tough new lockdown measures

Bavaria

In Bavaria, schools and daycare centres will be closed as of Wednesday, and replaced by distance learning and emergency childcare services.

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For primary schools, state premier Markus Söder said there would be online classes “if possible”. Otherwise, emergency care will be organised. In addition, parents should be able to take additional paid leave.

Söder announced emergency childcare options for everyone “who needs it”. 

Baden-Württemberg

Graduating class levels in the southwestern state will receive online instruction in the last days. 

Yet “for the pupils of the remaining grades, the decision is equivalent to early holidays,” a press release said. For grades one to seven and for Kita children, emergency care will be provided.

Berlin

As of Wednesday, classes in Berlin schools will be suspended. Emergency care will be offered at the primary level. Teachers will decide whether class tests and exams that have already been scheduled will be taken at school.

After the Christmas holidays, only distance learning will be offered until January 8th. Berlin's Kitas and childcare facilities offer emergency care only.

Bremen

On Wednesday, compulsory attendance will be lifted in schools. Kitas will remain open, although childcare will be possible in exceptional cases.

Hamburg

In Hamburg, attendance is no longer compulsory as of Wednesday, but schools and Kitas will remain open until the Christmas holidays.

Parents can decide whether to send their children to school or let them study at home through distance learning. The holidays start regularly on Friday.

In final-year classes and at vocational schools, exams can only be postponed if the students agree. Emergency care will be provided at Kitas and playgrounds will remain open.

Lower Saxony

Schools in Lower Saxony are to remain open, but compulsory attendance will be lifted until December 23rd. “All those who can stay at home should also stay at home and learn there,” says Minister of Education Grant Hendrik Tonne.

Tests and exams will also be cancelled as of Wednesday. As far as Kitas are concerned, those who can make arrangements should look after their children at home, according to Lower Saxony.

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

Compulsory attendance has also been lifted in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Children in grades one to six can stay at home from Wednesday and receive schoolwork for the following days. However, the schools remain open for children for whom care at home is not guaranteed.

Since Monday, tightened measures have already been in place in large parts of the state for pupils in grade seven and above. These are to be taught online, with exceptions before Christmas in Rostock. These measures are initially scheduled to last until January 10th.

The courtyard of a school in Hamburg. Photo: DPA

Kitas are also to remain open. State premier Manuela Schwesig advocated that parents should keep their children at home if possible.

North Rhine-Westphalia

North Rhine-Westphalia already adopted the measures last week. Schools will remain open up to and including Friday, but classes from grade eight onward will be taught exclusively online.

Parents of children in grades one to seven can have their children exempted from face-to-face teaching – but compulsory schooling still applies. Pupils at special schools with special care needs can also be taught in their schools in grades eight and above.

READ ALSO: 'It feels like a Sunday': What German residents think of lockdown requirements

Saarland

Compulsory attendance at school is abolished for all pupils. All pupils receive learning materials for home learning. The dates for the final examinations for the graduating classes (Hauptschulabschluss, Mittlerer Bildungsabschluss and Abitur) will be postponed. 

For students up to grade 6, there will classes if needed. Parents should inform the school informally by Tuesday if their child is coming to school.

Saxony-Anhalt

As of Wednesday, schools and Kitas will only provide emergency care. For pupils up to the sixth grade, compulsory attendance will be dropped, and older pupils are to be taught from home.

“It is recommended, wherever possible, that children be cared for at home,” the ministry says. “Attendance at face-to-face classes is not compulsory.”

Schleswig-Holstein

Years 1 to 7 can either come to school on Mondays and Tuesdays for childcare services or take an informal leave from compulsory attendance at their school and study from home. 

From Grade 8 onwards, there have already been no lessons in the schools since Monday. For the time being, the children are set to study at home. With the new regulations, many pupils can stay at home from Monday until January 10th, a total of four weeks. 

If the infection situation permits, regular classes are set to resume on January 11th.

Rhineland-Palatinate

Rhineland-Palatinate is also suspending compulsory attendance from Wednesday. Schools will remain open for pupils who cannot be looked after at home until the start of the holiday on Friday. Distance learning does not have to take place during these three days, according to the ministry. 

After the holidays, there will be distance learning from January 4th to 15th. Class tests and examinations that were scheduled until January 15th are to be postponed if possible. The Abitur – the written examinations begin on January  – will take place as planned and in attendance at the schools.

Kitas will remain open, but parents should ensure care at home if possible.

Thuringia

As of Wednesday, face-to-face teaching will be suspended in all schools in Thuringia. Pupils are to be taught in “home learning” until December 22nd, and also from January 4th and 8th. Class tests and exams that cannot be postponed for graduation in 2021 are exempt.

Emergency care will be offered for children in grades 1 to 6 and special schools by appointment. Kindergartens and day care services will also be closed, but emergency care will be available.


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