Ahead of Thursday afternoon’s meeting of the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (KMK), teachers’ associations and student representatives have called for uniform nationwide rules for school openings and coronavirus tests.
Here’s what they would like to see implemented throughout the Bundesrepublik.
Uniform openings and mandatory tests
“The ball is now in the court of the education ministers,” the president of the German Teachers’ Association, Heinz-Peter Meidinger, told Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland.
“They can now show whether they can manage to finally come up with national rules for schools more than a year after the start of the pandemic.”
Meidinger emphasised the need for mandatory testing “twice a week” for all students in Germany.
He also said that a uniform line was needed on the issue of school openings.
“It’s not acceptable that every federal state does what it wants – and individual states say they’ll open regardless of the incidences (the number of Covid infections per 100,000 people in seven days).”
At the last coronavirus federal-state summit on March 22nd, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the 16 state premiers decided to offer two tests per week for pupils “as soon as possible”.
Several states have implemented this, but it is unclear if this is happening everywhere.
In some states, compulsory testing has also been announced – students are to be allowed to take part in face-to-face classes only after a negative test.
Closure at incidence above 100
When a region reaches a 7-day incidence of more than 100 coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents, “schools must be closed,” emphasised Meidinger.
However, he said that if the vaccination campaign among teachers is “well advanced” then school boards, along with local health authorities, should be able to decide whether in-class lessons are still possible.
But it’s not there yet: due to an ongoing debate about the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, there is currently a setback in vaccinating teachers, Meidinger said.
The Secretary General of the Federal Pupils Conference, Dario Schramm, also called on education ministers to agree on a standard policy for school openings across Germany
“In hotspots with incidences of more than 100, however, there must be mandatory distance learning – with exceptions only for high school graduates and graduating classes,” Schramm said.
No surprising decisions expected
In the run-up to its meeting, the KMK said that the talks also served to prepare for the next coronavirus summit between Merkel and state premiers scheduled for Monday April 12th.
In nine of the 16 federal states, Easter vacations come to an end on Sunday.
Depending on the state, certain grades are now being sent back to distance learning as a precaution. Elsewhere, there is a mix of in-person and online teaching.
Each of Germany’s states have the power to decided for themselves on education issues.