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Not overkill, but not normality… August 4, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Reading a piece by Derek Scally in the IT on how schools in parts of Germany are reopening I was struck by one line. He wrote:

Around the country, state education ministers and parents are grappling to find a formula that prevents caution tipping into overkill.

And yet, read the actual text of the piece and what he demonstrates is quite a high level of caution, even if the old line about children not being as prone to infection or spreading is reiterated (though as seen in the last few weeks that is not the message of quite some weight of evidence accumulating in various locations). For example:

The northeastern coastal state has reorganised classes into age cohorts, with lessons beginning on a staggered basis. As well as a dedicated room, each cohort has its own area of the cloakrooms, toilets, canteen and school yard. Classrooms must be ventilated regularly, and pupils are required to wash their hands regularly and avoid hugging.

If one pupil tests positive for Covid-19, only that cohort will be quarantined and not the entire school.

Well, that last is the theory. One wonders how it will work in practice. And:

Some states such as Berlin and Bavaria have decided already to make face masks obligatory in school corridors. Other states including Saxony and Hesse have made masks a discretionary matter for individual schools.

Indeed RTÉ enlarges on this and adds:

Masks must be worn in the corridors, classrooms are regularly ventilated and pupils are urged to wash their hands regularly and respect social distancing.

And there was this troubling point:

Not all went entirely to plan this morning, however, as students excited to see their friends again after so long could not resist a few hugs in the playground.

“We hope everything will go well. We just don’t know where they have been on holiday,” Mr Kaestner confessed.

Hope indeed. A sober point made, again on RTÉ rather than the IT.

Heinz-Peter Meidinger, head of the DPhV teachers’ union, fears “enormous chaos” because of a “lack of preparation” in schools.

“In many schools, ventilation concepts and the isolation of learning groups cannot be implemented,” said Mr Meidinger, who instead favours alternating face-to-face and distance learning classes.

Some classes also cannot be taught because the teachers belong to a risk group. The DPhV has identified some 400 such classes in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania alone.

Faced with all these difficulties, it would be “illusory” to think that schools “will return to normal functioning”, warned Saskia Esken, co-leader of the Social Democrats, the minority coalition partner in Angela Merkel’s government.


1. tafkaGW - August 4, 2020

It’s a bit mad, the way federalism works in this context in Germany.

I’ve friends who are teachers in Brandenburg where they are not insisting on mask wearing, and they are thinking of ‘going sick’ for the first couple of weeks, while some pupils return from the likes of Spain, Belgium, or (heaven’s help us) the US/UK, some of them carrying the virus without symptoms.

The teachers union, the GEW, is not happy with the lack of clarity in the process. Whether that will lead to industrial action we’ll see.

I guess one advantage is that other states have time to learn and adapt if there are several school-based outbreaks in Meck-Pomm and Brandenburg. There are staggered school holidays here and some states will not go back to school until the beginning of September.


WorldbyStorm - August 4, 2020

Can’t blame the GEW at all. It’s all going to be very very messy. But on the other hand it really points up the lie abroad in the irish media that everything is ‘normal’ in schools on the continent.


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