Several German states prepare to open schools Monday

Several German states prepare to open schools Monday
A school classroom in Frankfurt where some pupils are already in emergency care on site. Photo: DPA
Schools in several German states are preparing to open their doors again to some pupils next week.

However, there are concerns that reopening schools and daycare centres (Kitas) at this stage will push up the number of Covid-19 infections.

At a press conference on Friday, Health Minister Jens Spahn was asked by a reporter whether it was responsible to reopen schools and Kitas across Germany at this stage considering the spread of variants.

READ ALSO: 'More young people will become ill': Germany facing tough battle against Covid-19 variants

Spahn said protection plans were in place, including increased rapid testing, alternate teaching between digital and face-to-face, smaller classes and medical masks.

But he said it was important to regularly check how the openings affect the spread of the virus.

Baden-Württemberg, Brandenburg, Berlin, Bavaria, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, Schleswig-Holstein and Thuringia will reopen primary schools on Monday February 22nd, followed two days later by Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

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From the beginning of March, Hamburg and Saxony-Anhalt plan to resume limited school operations.

And Bremen authorities hope that full class sizes can return to primary schools from March.

READ ALSO: Here's where German schools and Kitas are set to reopen

Saxony, which has been severely hit in the second wave, opened its primary schools at the beginning of the week – but there is no compulsory attendance for the 145,000 pupils in the state. That means parents can choose whether to home school or send their children to school.

Saxony state premier Michael Kretschmer tweeted last week to say schools and Kitas could open with “restricted operation”.

Since January, the 279,000 primary school pupils in Lower Saxony have been taught in classrooms on a part-time basis. Classes are divided and pupils attend on rotating days.
 
Most schools have been largely closed since mid-December, although emergency care is offered to children of key workers.
 
The majority of states are planning to re-start classes with a rotating schedule.
 
Older pupils will likely not return to their classrooms until later in March or April, depending on how the Covid-19 situation develops.
 
Health Minister Spahn has said he is considering whether teachers can be vaccinated earlier than planned.

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