Three German states relax Covid mask rules in schools

Pupils wearing masks at their desks in school in Aschheim, Bavaria, in August this year.
Pupils wearing masks at school in Aschheim, Bavaria, in August this year. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Matthias Balk
Pupils at schools across Germany have to wear face masks under Covid restrictions. But that's about to change in three German states.

In Bavaria students will no longer have to wear masks in class from next week, said state premier Markus Söder.

At schools in Saarland, masks will not be mandatory from this Friday – both in classrooms and in all other areas of the school, education minister Christine Streichert-Clivot said.

And in Berlin schools, the mask requirement will be lifted from Monday for pupils up to and including the sixth grade.

More regions are reviewing their Covid mask rules in schools, reported the Tagesschau. 

The state government of North Rhine-Westphalia wants to clarify next week what will happen with compulsory masks after the autumn holidays.

In Baden-Württemberg, too, an end to the Covid mask requirement in schools is being considered, a government spokesperson said.

Relaxing the rules on masks in schools is the responsibility of the states – not the federal government.

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

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Will schools have to close this autumn and winter?

Politicians and health experts are concerned about school closures in autumn and winter if a drastic Covid wave occurs.

Burkhard Jung, president of the German Association of Cities, spoke out against closing daycare centres and schools if Covid cases rise. He advocated for more vaccination coverage across the board to protect children from Covid infections. 

“We have to expect that in autumn and winter the number of Corona infections will increase, especially among the unvaccinated. But we certainly don’t want schools and daycare centres to have to be closed again then,” he said. 

READ ALSO: Germany will see Covid resurgence in October, warns top virologist

Jung called for 2G rules – that is only allowing entry to people who are vaccinated (geimpft) or recovered (genesen) – for certain employees. 

“We welcome the fact that employers are allowed to ask about vaccination status in sensitive professions where vulnerable people are cared for,” said the SPD politician.

But he said Germany should go a step further. “We expect employees in the educational sector, for example in daycare centres, schools and residential groups, but also in hospitals and in nursing to be vaccinated,” he said. 

SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach said, however, that the vaccination rate among teachers and daycare staff is already very high.

“According to my observations and estimates, it is well over 90 percent,” he said.

“And since we also have a high vaccination rate in the health professions, I also see no reason to introduce compulsory vaccination for doctors and nurses,” added Lauterbach. 

According to figures from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), a total of 64.3 percent of the German population (53.4 million) are currently fully vaccinated, and 67.9 percent (56.5 million) have received at least one shot.

Among adults, almost three quarters (74.9 percent) are fully vaccinated, while about one third (33.7 percent) of children aged between 12 and 17, are inoculated. 


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