The new school year begins on Thursday in “Scenario A”, which means that all students are at school together every day. In order to enable this regular operation, the Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs has defined an “incidence or warning level-independent safety phase” at the start of school, which is valid until September 22nd. Accordingly, mandatory self-tests should take place at home on the first seven school days after the holidays, and later three tests per week. This should also filter out those students – and teachers – who may have been infected while on vacation. In addition, the obligation to wear a face-to-face mask in the building and in class applies to all types of schools. Adolescents aged 14 and over must wear a medical mask, younger people can also use everyday masks. In addition, the AHA + L regulations continue to apply.
Before the start of the new school year, Minister of Culture Grant Hendrik Tonne (SPD) will be a guest on Wednesday from 4 p.m. on NDR 1 Lower Saxony and then on Lower Saxony at 6 p.m. on NDR television.
“Maximum presence with maximum security”
According to Tonne, “mask breaks” should be integrated into everyday school life, the more so the younger the children are. The masks can be taken off during breaks in the open air, in the cafeterias while eating and drinking and during sports lessons. According to Tonne, only fully vaccinated and recovered pupils and teachers are exempt from the mandatory corona tests. The plan is to start with “maximum presence with maximum security”: “In principle, the so-called scenario A should apply everywhere – including tests, masks, ventilation and appropriate hygiene plans.” He wanted to create reliability in education and support, said Tonne. A nationwide return to a possible scenario B or C is not planned.
Corona vaccinations in schools
The vaccination week announced by the state government for children and adolescents from the age of twelve begins today in Lower Saxony, during which vaccinations are also carried out in schools. According to Education Minister Tonne, many schools want to participate. Schoolchildren can now be given “a low-threshold offer,” said Tonne. Most young people are aware that a high vaccination rate helps to secure classroom teaching and, moreover, to get freedom in leisure time, sport and culture. However, there is also criticism of the planned vaccinations in schools. The Association for Education and Upbringing (VBE), for example, fears discussions with anti-vaccination opponents at schools and peer pressure.
No comprehensive equipment with air filters
In principle, classrooms should be regularly ventilated wherever possible. Where ventilation is difficult, air filter systems should provide additional protection against infection in schools. However, a few days before the start of the new school year, Lower Saxony is still a long way from being fully equipped with mobile or stationary air filters in schools. According to a survey by the German Press Agency, the reasons for this include ongoing tendering procedures, material bottlenecks and unclear funding conditions in the state.