German doctors slam plans for Covid masks in schools

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German doctors slam plans for Covid masks in schools
A school pupil places a disposable mask in the bin. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Friso Gentsch

German public health officials have criticised plans for masks in schools to return in autumn, arguing that the measure is 'unnecessary.'


According to doctors in the public health service, mandatory masks for school children should only be introduced if new, more dangerous variants of Covid emerge in the colder months.

"With the current variants, there is no need for compulsory masks in class," Johannes Nießen, chairman of the Federal Association of Public Health Service Doctors, told the Funke Media Group on Wednesday. 

Masks significantly impair learning, Nießen said.


"They affect language development, make foreign language teaching more difficult and disrupt communication because they cover half the field of vision," he added.

In the view of the public health officials, masks in class should only be used if and when a more infectious, and at the same time more threatening, variant than Omicron emerges.

The federal states should therefore "allow lessons without masks for as long as possible," Neißen said.

It comes amid calls for the government to drop the mask-wearing requirement on long-distance trains, having already announced the end of mandatory masks on flights.


On Tuesday, rail lobby group Allianz pro Schiene urged the Health Ministry to rethink its Covid measures.

"The federal government urgently needs to find a uniform solution," said managing director Dirk Flege. "If the mask requirement is abolished in aeroplanes, this must also apply to all other means of public transport."

In October, a new set of Covid rules is set to come into force that would see masks remain in place on long-distance trains, while states will be able to decide whether they enforce the rule on local public transport.

If the Covid situation worsens, states would be able to tighten rules further such as by re-introducing mandatory masks in schools.

However, school closures and further lockdowns have so far been ruled out. 






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