No more compulsory tests: schools return to normal | hessenschau.de

On Monday the schools in Hesse take another step towards normality: there are no compulsory tests. The associations of teachers and parents are worried and there is not only joy among schoolchildren. Is there a risk that other lessons will be canceled again?

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New Corona regulation from Friday



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“Normal school operations are possible again”: with these words, Prime Minister Volker Bouffier (CDU) announced Thursday the new Corona rules for Hesse students. Or rather: the end of almost all restrictions. Because on Monday the last protective measures will fall in the schools of Hesse, including the obligation to take tests.

Ten-year-old Lina Marie Callensee can’t even imagine it. Now she is routinely taking a test before class starts at the Adolf Reichwein School in Heusenstamm (Offenbach). “Now it’s our normalcy,” she says.

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This applies after the end of the compulsory tests in Hessian schools

So far, students and teaching staff have had to test themselves on site three times a week. They now receive two tests a week for voluntary home testing. Pupils no longer have to inform the school of an infection – contrary to the teaching staff; The contact persons are not informed by the school, but under their own responsibility.

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11-year-old Paul Maier also got used to testing. However, he is looking forward to next week: “Then we will have more time for lessons,” he assumes. Rehearsals in his school, the Franziskanergymnasium Kreuzburg in Großkrotzenburg (Main-Kinzig), sometimes lasted up to 30 minutes.

GEW fears an increase in infections

But not everyone is eagerly awaiting the abolition of the mandatory self-tests of the crown. Anni Lotfi criticizes the imminent easing. The 17-year-old is in sixth grade at the Humboldt School in Bad Homburg and still wears a mask in class – also “out of respect for others”, as she herself puts it. The requirement to test her made her feel safer. She fears that the measures will be lifted too soon and that schools will close again.

The Education and Knowledge Union (GEW) Hessen also has this concern. Its president, Thilo Hartmann, is convinced: Regular corona tests have made an important contribution to maintaining face-to-face teaching in recent months and making it safer.

Hartmann now fears a renewed increase in cases of illness among students and staff because infections are not detected or are detected too late without the mandatory tests. After the end of the mask requirement and the lack of air filtration systems, there was no longer any effective protection in the classrooms. “An unnecessary threat to the final exams,” says the GEW president.

Mandatory tests revealed a third of infections in schools

Indeed, data from the Conference of Education Ministers and the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) but point out that this risk has decreased significantly. The incidence of infection among teachers was higher than that of the general population of the same age due to the spread of easily transmitted viral variants such as delta and omicron. Consequently, starting from the second half of 2021, quarantine measures, distance learning and school closures have started to decrease.

However, regular school testing was an effective way to break the shackles of infection. As a result, about one third of cases were found in the 5 to 14 year age group. A comparison with vacation periods demonstrates this: the incidences have always decreased by about a third. This could indicate that infections were detected less frequently during the holidays.

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According to the Ministry of Education, there is still no data at the Hessian level for the first week after the Easter holidays. On Tuesday – the second day of school – 0.2 percent of students and 0.8 percent of teachers were in quarantine, less than before the holidays.

LEB: “Meaning sinks into the abyss”

A comparison with Baden-Wuerttemberg. This method was used there last year, but fewer cases were found than, for example, in Rhineland-Palatinate, despite the higher number of students. This could indicate, for example, that home tests have not been sufficiently thorough; the quality of the self-tests may also play a role.

Even the chairman of the state parents’ advisory board, Volkmar Heitmann, doubts their correctness. The antigen tests used at school were also inaccurate and often gave false negative results. With voluntary home testing, the informational value sinks “absolutely”.

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According to Heitmann, normal pooled PCR tests using the lollipop method and sewage testing for virus residues make more sense. This could contribute to a more reliable database and make schools safer, especially for families with vulnerable family members.

The incidence between the ages of 5 and 14 is decreasing

The development of the incidence in the group of young people aged 5 to 14 shows: Schools have already become safer than a few weeks ago. The risk of classroom outbreaks has decreased. The reason for this may be the high rate of infection. Many children in this age group have already been infected with the omcron variant and are no longer so easily infected.

Lina Marie Callensee, a fifth grade student, is suspicious if she will stay that way. After all, in the two years of the pandemic, you saw that the situation continued to get tense in the fall. However, she is pragmatic: “Everyone will understand at some point anyway. And once we’re done, Corona doesn’t really have a chance to mutate.”

Paul Maier proposes seasonal rules in schools: easing in summer, tightening in winter. But now is a good time to experience some normality, the “old” normality.

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