It has been exactly ten minutes since Clara sat in class without a mask on Monday last week. Then the first grade and her friends from the Schwabinger Wilhelmschule had to put their masks back on. Because a child’s self-test showed two lines: positive. So everyone put their masks back on, even though it was the first day elementary school had officially taken off their masks in class.
The abolition of the mask requirement in class was still overdue, says Clara’s mother, Katharina Rücker. Now that the clubs and bars are open again. “Children learn to read and write, they should get to know other children and their teacher.” All of this is much easier without a mask.
Since last Monday, elementary and special school children no longer have to wear the mask on the seat, but only in the corridors or on the toilet. Or if a child in the class has Corona: Then the mask requirement applies again for five days. More than four months ago, the mask requirement was reintroduced, which should initially apply for one week in primary schools and two weeks for fifth grades. However, it was then extended until further notice for all students.
According to the teachers’ association, it could have been at least until the Easter holidays
From this Monday the time has come for fifth and sixth grade pupils, they too are no longer obliged to wear masks if pupils participate in PCR pool tests. Many welcome it, but not everyone is happy with the timing.
“Of course it is better for children without masks,” says Martin Schmid, president of the Munich Teachers’ Association MLLV. “But we find the times very unfortunate now that the incidence and number of infections are skyrocketing.” At least until the Easter holidays, he thinks, the obligation of the mask could have been maintained.
Amaya Schonborn, who is just picking up her son from elementary school, sees things similarly. “It’s a strange feeling that masks are now omitted when the incidence is highest,” says her mother. Her son Max sees her very differently. Grade 4 thinks it’s great to sit in class without a mask. “Now my teacher understands what I’m saying much better. And I understand other children better.”
Sandra Martin, the mother of seven-year-old Jakob, also thinks the end of the mask requirement in class has come too soon. At first, her son complained about the mask, but then quickly accepted that it had to be worn, she says. Jakob himself says: “Now I can breathe much better again.”
The omission of the mask requirement is classified and perceived very differently, says Steve Gebhardt, vice president of the joint council of primary school parents. “Some children continue to wear the mask, for example due to previous illnesses, others are happy that they no longer have to wear it.”
Ute Hartmann runs the primary school on Wilhelmstrasse. He thinks it’s fundamentally good that children are learning again without masks. “When you learn to read, you work a lot with the position of the mouth. Children have to see how the mouth is open and what the tongue is doing to make a certain sound. It is much more difficult with a mask. Especially for children, whose mother tongue is not German “.
National youth games and excursions are also on the program again
The fact that masks are no longer mandatory in the classroom is a return to normal. They also planned a summer festival for this year, national youth games, excursions and a school camp for fourth grade children. “We are doing it in a small and careful way, but it is starting again,” says Ute Hartmann.
A Munich high school principal criticizes the fact that face masks are no longer mandatory in grades 5 and 6 because these students take part in PCR pool testing. If a student has the Corona, he only discovers it in the evening after sitting in class with the other children all day without a mask.
“We really miss laughter and facial expressions,” says Alexandra Hallweger of the Erasmus Grasser Gymnasium school administration. Everyone was looking forward to normal times, she says. But at the moment there are so many cases in school, children are so used to wearing masks – she assumes that some children will continue to wear protection voluntarily in the classroom. So it was at the beginning of the school year, when there was no obligation. Half of her class still wore a mask. And in Ulrike Winter, principal of Rotenbuchstrasse elementary school, pupils of six classes were able to take off their masks last week – there have been cases of crowns in the other 20 classes.
We cannot speak of normality in schools. In many classes, children wear masks, either voluntarily or after a Corona case. And in the stairways and corridors the following still applies: wear a mask.