After the mandatory crown tests, Hessian schools now have to close their eyes and pass | hessenschau.de

In Hessian schools, many things did not go as parents and children would have liked during the pandemic. The one thing that has proven to work well – rapid tests – is now virtually banned from politics. Why?

“We will have to live with Corona” – with this programmatic phrase, Prime Minister Volker Bouffier (CDU) announced on Thursday a further relaxation of the crown. In schools, among other things: the mandatory mask has been lifted since the beginning of March and schools are also doing without the mandatory rapid tests three times a week. Instead, students should only test twice voluntarily, preferably at home. Test kits continue to be provided by the school.

Personal responsibility instead of coercion, which is worth fighting for. But unfortunately the numbers show that confidence is good for quick corona tests, control is much better. Testing should be supervised by teachers, otherwise recognition rates drop dramatically.

The Hesse school tests: a model of success

You can calculate this after a quick look at the neighboring countries. Baden-Württemberg, for example, last fall allowed parents to certify a negative test result for their children instead of relying on supervised joint testing.

School tests found around 10% of all reported infections among Baden-Württemberg students. This is evidenced by the figures displayed by the SWR data team I could. In Hesse, on the other hand, cases found in schools account for about 30 per cent of the incidence in the age group from 5 to 14 years.

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If you convert this to the number of cases that were also detected by school tests, it shows that the testing regime in Hesse was almost four times more effective than that of the neighboring country to the south – which, according to experts interviewed by SWR, is also due to the fact that, unlike Hesse, Baden-Württemberg relied on numerous suppliers and tests of varying quality, which reduced the effectiveness of the tests.

What school exams bring us

Time for a seemingly naive question: is it even necessary to take the test in schools? After all, children and young people with corona infection only very rarely get seriously ill. Side effects of a corona infection, such as the risk of subsequent Pims disease, appear to be manageable – the disease occurs in only about one in 3,000 cases and is considered good negotiable. So why the effort?

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In fact, school tests have played an important role in the fight against the virus. In the early stages of the pandemic, it was feared that open schools could allow the pathogen to spread more rapidly, but the availability of rapid tests since spring 2021 has changed that. Due to the unprovoked testing in schools, it was possible to discover so many infections and break the chains of infection. Infections that otherwise would not have been detected were not passed on to families and other children.

The result: open and tested schools have led to a decrease in new infections. The calculated statistic of the TU Monk. Based on their calculations, modelers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics (ITWM) even considered testing one of the most effective means of slowing down viruses. (PDF).

A strong argument for keeping schools open. But the tests were not only useful in keeping infection dynamics low across the country, but they also served to protect the schools themselves: they were intended to prevent infected students from infecting others in the classroom and paralyze entire classes and schools.

The students are still sick anyway

This scenario, however, no longer threatens. The unstoppable omicron wave is responsible for this. The incidence has been particularly high in schoolchildren age groups over the past few weeks and is therefore now gradually being phased out.

Meanwhile, most schoolchildren have already had the Corona: this year in Hesse, a corona infection was found in 36.1% of children between the ages of 5 and 14. ITWM scientists estimate that less than half of all contagious infections are actually detected. This would mean that over 70% of students have already had a corona infection this year.

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However, this limits the chances of the virus spreading in schools, because in most cases a newly healed infection protects against reinfection.

And so the statistician Helmut Küchenhoff, who with his team calculated the braking effect of school tests, now considers random tests superfluous. “The number of positive tests is not the right size. You should rather look to hospitals,” Küchenhoff said in an interview with hr-iNFO.

The virus can no longer be contained however

This position is part of a phase in which politicians have obviously given up trying to contain the virus anyway. Since this weekend, no new cases have been reported from Hesse on Saturdays and Sundays.

Nearly all measures have been taken all around to contain the virus, although Omikron can still find victims in the older age groups. The incidences are still at a high level. Virologist Martin Stürmer believes they will only fall significantly in May.

It wouldn’t make much sense for schools to stand up on their own. Interest in having a clear picture of the infection process in schools no longer appears to be high. The fact that reported incidences in the age group between 5 and 14 are set to decrease by about 20 per cent due to the omission of tests, perhaps comes in handy for school policy. Although representatives of teachers and parents and students report concerns.

In Hessian schools, this Monday’s motto is: close your eyes and move on.

Additional information

Dates and numbers

In order for you to understand the calculations for this article, we have them as a so-called notebook with calculations and results on the Github platform provided.

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Additional information

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