Contact tracing in schools: capitulation to Omicron?

If a Corona case occurs in a school, how do schools deal with it? Obviously it tested positive, but what about the bank’s neighbors? The student in the front row or the student behind? Education Minister Michael Piazolo (Free Electors) reiterated Tuesday after the cabinet meeting: Quarantine decisions are always made by the responsible health department, not schools. Although they could be involved in decision making, such as contact tracing or seat planning, they could not make decisions.

This is also what the current quarantine rules as of January 20 say: “Until the health department issues a possible quarantine order, the other students in the class will continue to attend classes. After a case of infection, the frequency of test in the classroom will be increased to be safe. ”Criticism rained down from associations and the opposition.

The reality in schools is different

Former state spokesman for students and current president of the Bavarian student union, Nevio Zuber, calls this regulation “completely unrealistic”: it changes nothing in the challenges of the schools, which are left to fend for themselves with students who have tested positive. Health authorities are already unable to keep up with contact tracing, adds Zuber.

State president of the Education and Science Union (GEW), Martina Borgendale, sees it the same way. She regularly happens to have positive students sitting in class because the health authorities fail to intervene. “Although there are positive test results, it takes a long time for students to be quarantined.”

Opposition: Pragmatic solution removed from the table

Criticism also comes from the opposition: “We are really going into chaos in the schools”, warns Max Deisenhofer, spokesman for the education policy of the Greens in the state parliament. School management and on-site teachers often know best who needs to be sent home, such as neighbors or vulnerable groups. “Unfortunately, this pragmatic solution is now being taken off the table and burdened by the health authorities, who are already drowning anyway,” said Deisenhofer.

The opposition politician accuses the state government of being “poorly prepared”. His main criticisms: lack of PCR tests, overwhelmed and overworked health authorities and still insufficient air filters in the classrooms. The Greens do not believe that seventy percent of Bavarian schools are now equipped with air filters, as the minister calculated.

If in doubt, send the children home in an unbureaucratic way

The president of the Bavarian directors’ association, Walter Baier, believes that this agreement “has failed tremendously”. Baier, who is himself the principal of the Bruckmühler Gymnasium, has already spoken with the responsible health department and received a refusal: “Our health department immediately wrote that they could not implement this measure.”

If school leaders can’t send children to quarantine, they should at least be able to send them home or to distance learning, asks Simone Fleischmann, president of the Bavarian Association of Teachers (BLLV). “We do everything on site to ensure that the children are safe, we are careful as a team.”

According to Fleischmann, another problem is that the laboratories are also overloaded. They were unable to evaluate the pooled PCR tests in time, which are mainly used in elementary and special schools. In that case, Fleischmann believes, school leaders would have to make quick decisions that they could no longer make.

Help required for teachers and students

Nevio Zuber of the Schüler Union and Max Deisenhofer of the Greens agree that in the future it will be necessary to remove more pressure from school lessons. For example, by removing “one or the other school assignment” from the curriculum.

Teachers could already manage it flexibly, says the Minister of Education. At least in part: Although there are mandatory performance surveys for transition and schoolwork in high and secondary schools, teachers can react flexibly.

Here the state government relies on the individual responsibility of the schools. In contrast to the quarantine regulation.

Leave a Comment