German schools and kitas warn of closures amid staff sickness wave

Imogen Goodman
Imogen Goodman - [email protected]
German schools and kitas warn of closures amid staff sickness wave
Children at a kita in Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Axel Heimken

Schools and nurseries in Germany could have to close their doors due to too many staff members calling in sick with seasonal infections, the primary school association has warned.


With temperatures dropping and Covid and flu infections spiking, experts are warning that the shortage of staff in schools and Kitas around Germany is becoming increasingly hard to manage. 

According to Edgar Bohn, the chairman of the primary schools association, parents could find themselves left without childcare at short notice this winter if local schools have to close their doors due to too many staff absences.

"The staffing situation in many primary schools in the country is on the brink and in some cases is below the calculated staffing requirement,"  Bohn told RND. "I cannot and do not want to imagine complete school closures, but they could certainly be the result in some cases."

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Bohn's warnings were echoed by Waltraud Weegmann, the head of the German Daycare Association, who reported that the situation in nursery schools was already difficult. 

"Many daycare centres across Germany are currently struggling with a high number of staff absences," she said.

In Weegmann's view, the skilled worker shortage in nursery schools needs to be dealt with urgently.

"Haste is required," she said. "Otherwise we will no longer have a daycare centre crisis, but a complete daycare centre collapse."

Though almost all sectors in Germany are battling severe staff shortages, education and childcare regularly emerge as two of the worst-affected sectors in the country.

According to Jennifer Rotter, a spokesperson for the Workers' Welfare Association, this "precarious situation" makes school and Kita closures not just likely, but inevitable.


"Reduced opening hours and even short-term closures due to a lack of staff are almost the rule rather than the exception at the moment," Rotter told RND.  

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Covid inflections in Germany have been on the rise since the beginning of autumn, with official statistics from the Robert Koch Institute suggesting an incidence of 27 infections per 100,000 people in the space of a week.

However, since testing for the virus has sunk to very low levels, experts say the real figure is likely much higher.

In addition to infections with Covid-19, general respiratory infections like the flu are also going up. In the week ending November 19th, the frequency of this type of infection had risen to 8,700 per 100,000 people. 


wave of illnesses - (die) Krankheitswelle

short-notice - kurzfristig 

school closures - (die) Schulschließungen

precarious - prekär 

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