From this Wednesday in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, schoolchildren and teachers will have to wear a mouth-and-nose cover on the school premises. In addition, the corona tests are to be expanded, said Prime Minister Manuela Schwesig (SPD) after a cabinet meeting with representatives of local authorities, industry and associations. The mask requirement applies from class five. This frees the elementary schools. According to Schwesig, the classrooms are also excluded.
Minister of Education Bettina Martin (SPD) said that the students should also be asked to wear their masks on the way to the school bus and at the bus stop. The municipalities should seek solutions for very full school buses to ensure equalization. According to Martin, the test program for teachers and trainee teachers at schools is to be expanded to include other school staff such as secretaries and caretakers. Up to five tests per employee are possible until the autumn holidays.
The new school year had started on Monday in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania without a mask at school. But when more and more federal states announced this step and Federal Minister of Education Anja Karliczek (CDU) also spoke in favor of it, Minister Martin turned around. NRW Education Minister Yvonne Gebauer (FDP) announced on Monday that pupils in secondary and vocational schools would first have to wear masks in the building and in class until August 31. The federal state thus sets the strictest rules in this area. According to Gebauer, if pupils in NRW would permanently violate the new mask requirement, they could be expelled from school. Gebauer also pointed out that the mask could also be removed in between for educational and medical reasons.
Schleswig-Holstein makes recommendations
Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Hamburg have also announced that they will be required to wear a mask in school buildings to combat the corona virus. However, it should not apply in class there.
In Berlin, too, the Senate does not currently want to follow the example of North Rhine-Westphalia. In the event that the number of infections should rise significantly in the new school year, Education Senator Sandra Scheeres (SPD) did not rule this out in the future. "At the moment this is inconceivable because I find it very difficult from a pedagogical point of view," she said after a Senate meeting. Not being able to see the facial expressions of the pupils is a problem, especially in primary schools.
The state of Schleswig-Holstein, where classes start regularly next week, wants to do without coercion. A mask requirement in schools is disproportionate in view of the still low infection rate in the country, said Education Minister Karin Prien (CDU) on Deutschlandfunk. However, there is an urgent recommendation to wear a mask everywhere in the schools, even in class from year seven.
Infection numbers have increased recently
Lower Saxony also considers the mask requirement introduced by North Rhine-Westphalia to be exaggerated during the lessons in secondary and vocational schools. After the summer holidays, the country started restricted regular operations at the schools with the most stable learning groups possible, said State Secretary for Culture Gaby Willamowius in Hanover on Tuesday. In view of the currently low number of infections in Lower Saxony, wearing the mouth and nose covering during the entire lesson in such a study group was not proportionate.
In Germany, the daily infection rate has increased in recent weeks and has recently leveled off between 500 and 900. On Tuesday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported 879 new infections. The total number of cases in Germany rose to over 211,000. The number of people who are acutely infected and who can transmit the virus has been increasing for weeks. It is calculated from the total infections minus those who have recovered and those who have died. The RKI had therefore recently raised the alarm and not ruled out that a second wave was already there. The number of new infections had remained below 1,000 in the past few days. "The decisive factor is whether the number of cases continues to increase or not. The development cannot be predicted at this time," said the RKI.
The increased number of infections coincides with the return of holidaymakers, some of them from risk areas, and with the start of school in the federal states. That had led to a debate about the right hygiene and distance concept in schools.