Test center instead of school: the crown test, which is eight times more expensive


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From: 4/4/2022 18:00

Private Catholic schools in the archdiocese of Cologne have apparently found a way to avoid annoying crown tests in the classroom as much as possible. Taxpayers could, according to research by WDR, NDR and SZ costs a lot of money.

By Markus Grill, Arnd Henze and Sarah Wippermann, WDR / NDR

Sanicum Diagnostics’ letter to dear parents was tempting. From now on, they offer “a mobile test center near your child’s school” where the child can be tested “as part of the citizenship test”. This is “a great relief” for teachers and the feedback from the pilot phase is “overwhelmingly positive”.

The school administration also played the drum. The rector of the Catholic Kardinal-Frings-Gymnasium in Bonn, senior director of studies Berndhard Hillen, wrote to the parents: “We seriously and intensely ask all students to enroll in the Sanicum and have the test carried out by the company’s expert testers” .

Try a good eight times more expensive

The appeal surprised. Because the school ministries are actually responsible for the pupils’ quick tests. Schools in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) can also order quick tests from a specially created website, which are then delivered to the schools at the expense of the state. The ministry costs 1.42 euros per student test. City tests, on the other hand, are eight times more expensive. In January, each test center received € 12.50 per city test, which is currently € 11.50.

Rapid tests in schools are annoying for everyone involved.

Image: dpa

The Federal Ministry of Health’s test regulations actually clearly rule that school tests cannot be billed as city tests. In the motivation of paragraph 4 bis of the test regulation, it is very clear: “It is inadmissible, however, if city tests are offered in schools, for example by mobile test centers, or if pupils are directed to these structures”.

The diocese sees the juridical situation differently

In addition to the Kardinal-Frings-Gymnasium NDR, WDR and “Süddeutsche Zeitung” (SZ) have identified more than a dozen other schools that collaborate with Sanicum Diagnostics. Most of these are private Catholic schools of the archdiocese of Cologne. Upon request, the archdiocese will inform you in writing that “no federal ordinances are decisive for us, but mainly the crown ordinances of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia”. Pupils could therefore also be tested in an exam center and these certificates are therefore considered “alternative evidence that can be presented in place of a school test”.

Sanicum does nothing else, according to the archdiocese of Cologne. But even the NRW Ministry of Health recently made it clear in a letter to municipalities that a citizen test can only replace the school test “in individual cases”. “A targeted use of city tests for school tests by a testing center before or even at school is not compatible with the applicable legislation”.

The principal did not question the offer

At the Kardinal-Frings-Gymnasium, for example, the Sanicum test container is located in the teachers’ parking lot. At the entrance there is a sign that says: “Private parking. Entrance only for employees of the Kardinal Frings Gymnasium”. Asked whether it is not allowed to specifically offer schoolchildren proofs of citizenship, Rector Hillen says it was an offer from the archdiocese and that he did not question it. The archdiocese has even signed a cooperation agreement with Sanicum.

In NRW, test center operators must report the number of tests they have performed to a Ministry of Health portal every day. The Kardinal-Frings-Gymnasium examination center reports to the ministry on 04222. In February, there were nearly 8,800 city tests. This means that Sanicum can bill more than € 100,000 for this test site at the school for this month alone.

Try temporarily exclusively for high school

Upon request, the company Sanicum Diagnostics denied any misconduct via a lawyer: “The offer of tests for citizens of Sanicum Diagnostics GmbH was always carried out in close cooperation with the authorities and adapted to the changing situation of the ordinance according to the specifications of the authorities “. The test centers are open to all citizens. The citizenship test offered by Sanicum “does not in any way replace school tests”.

But why did the rector of the Frings-Gymnasium write to parents that “all” students should enroll in the Sanicum? Sanicum also operates a test center in the schoolyard of the Sankt-Adelheid-Gymnasium Bonn (SAG). On its website, the school provides “information about the new test center at SAG” and writes: “From January 17, 2022, the company Sanicum Diagnostics will support us in performing the corona tests which are mandatory three times a week.”

Still a “Bürgerteststelle”?

On the company’s website, at the address of the Sankt-Adelheid-Gymnasium, there is a note that the test center is only open three times a week: “Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 8:00 to 16:30” . The school writes: “Only after all student tests are completed will outsiders have access to the test center.”

For the archdiocese this “is not a testing ground for the school”. The church claims that there are only “citizen test centers located in the vicinity of the school” and that “both citizens and schoolchildren can visit them”. In addition, the following applies: “If the health department approves, the school authority has nothing to complain about.”

Medical Insurance Association of Medical Examiners Review Procedure

The respective Association of Medical Examiners of Health Insurance (KV) is responsible for billing the citizen tests. When the North Rhine KV received several anonymous suggestions in mid-February that corona tests in the NRW in some schools could be billed as expensive citizen tests at the federal government’s expense, they sent a circular email on Feb.22. to all test centers: “We urgently ask your attention that a targeted use of test sites for school tests before or even at school (or in school premises) is not compatible with current regulations”.

This also applies to the “commissioning” of the mobile test centers by schools. One is there, KV shares on demand NDR, WDR and SZ to check everything.

The Department of Health and the Ministry of Education play down the issue

The health authorities in Bonn and Cologne, which approved the operation of Sanicum test centers in schools, are buttoned up. On the reproach that several schools have Sanicum test centers on the school premises, that schoolchildren are “urgently asked” to take advantage of Sanicum’s trial offers, which apparently schoolchildren also go to test centers by class during the course of the morning, Simone Winkelhog, spokesman for the city of Cologne, replies only succinctly with the sentence: “The health department is not responsible for the content of the letter”.

For the rest, the health department takes the same position as the company: “There is no trial operation or series of tests in schools by the Sanicum company.” The North Rhine-Westphalia ministry of culture says it is not aware of the archdiocese’s cooperation agreement with the test site operator. In principle, pupils can of course also take a citizenship test and present it at school as a substitute for the school test. However, it is “mainly a regulation intended to favor those affected”.

The spokesman for school policies of the SPD parliamentary group in North Rhine-Westphalia, Jochen Ott, is outraged: “First of all, public schools will get angry, because over the years there have been repeated calls for the establishment of municipal test centers as close as possible. to schools to replace teachers “. Now we realize that, it seems, the Catholic Church has moved on. “And then basically at the expense of the taxpayer”.

Student tests billed as citizen tests

Arnd Henze, WDR, April 5, 2022 at 9:58 am

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