German health ministers ‘want to unify Covid school rules’

German health ministers 'want to unify Covid school rules'
Children return to in-person teaching at the start of the new semester at a school in Wernigerode, Saxony-Anhalt. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Matthias Bein
Germany's state health ministers are keen to find common ground on Covid testing and quarantines in order to unify the rules in schools across the country.

With all of Germany’s 16 states now back at school for the start of the new year, each region has developed its own rules for dealing with the continued threat of Covid-19.

These include differences in rules around when a child or teacher must quarantine, different definitions of a ‘social bubble’ in the classroom and disagreements about the length of time they should be off school.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The Covid rules you need to know for the new German school term

In some cases, only children sitting next to an infected child must self-isolate, while in others, the entire classroom is sent home. 

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But according to a recent report in Tagesschau, state health ministers have indicated that they are keen to engage with each other and attempt to coordinate the rules across the country.

The aim should be to “harmonise the rules as far as possible”, the chairman of Health Ministers’ Conference, Klaus Holetschek, told Taggeschau. 

Covid infection rates have been rising sharply in recent weeks – especially in younger age groups where the majority are unvaccinated.

In the midst of this spike in infections, Education Minister Anja Karliczek and Health Minister Jens Spahn have both called for uniform guidelines for schools.

In particular, the current two-week quarantine period for those who’ve had contact with an infected person could be shortened with the aid of “clever testing strategy”, Karliczek told the German Editorial Network.

Teachers ‘must reveal vaccination status’

On Friday, the government also announced that it would add new clauses to the emergency Disease Protection Law to force teachers and kindergarten workers to declare their vaccination status to their employers – causing consternation amongst union leaders. 

“Health data is very sensitive – employers and authorities should not actually have access in principle,” Heinz-Peter Meidinger, the president of the German Teachers’ Association told DPA at the time.

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But Spahn defended the move, which also applies to carers, saying it was an attempt to protect the most vulnerable in society. 

Nobody would be fired for being unvaccinated, he added. 

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the 7-day incidence of Covid infections stood at 84.3 per 100,000 people on Monday, up from 83.1 the previous day and 75.8 the previous week.

Meanwhile, 4,749 new infections were recorded in 24 hours, up from 4,559 at the same time last week. Due to delays in reporting from the health authorities over the weekend, the number of infections tends to be lower on a Monday than during the rest of the week. 

Vocabulary 

Uniform rules – (die) einheitliche Regeln 

Duty to provide information – (der) Auskunftspflicht

vulnerable – verletzlich / verwundbar

to rise sharply – stark steigen 

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.


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