The Ministry of Education has presented a new hygiene plan for schools. It applies from the start of regular operations after the summer holidays and no longer prescribes compliance with the distance rule for classes in classes.
After the summer vacation, schoolchildren in Rhineland-Palatinate can return to their familiar class association for the first time in five months. In order to enable this normality after the restrictions due to the corona pandemic, the otherwise applicable distance rule for lessons in the classroom is abolished. “The distance requirement falls in the school classes, but should basically remain,” said Education Minister Stefanie Hubig (SPD) on Wednesday when presenting a new hygiene plan, which was drawn up together with doctors and experts from the Ministry of Health.
Close consultation with family doctors
“From a pediatric perspective, I think this plan is very good,” said Fred Zepp, director of the Center for Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at Mainz University Medical Center. If children were torn out of their familiar surroundings for a long time, suppressed in their joy of movement and turned into couch potatoes, this could lead to long-term negative changes. With a view to a possible cold wave in the cold season, Zepp said children with symptoms of respiratory diseases should not be sent to school.
This should first be clarified by a family doctor. Mainz-based virologist Bodo Plachter emphasized that there was no evidence that schools were hotspots for expansion – “unlike Tönnies or in other areas,” he added, referring to companies in the meat industry.
Hubig: “We will drive on sight”
The scheduled start of regular operation at schools in the country in mid-August is subject to the fact that infections with the corona virus remain at a low level. Due to the rapid spread of the pandemic, all schools and daycare centers were closed on March 16. “We will drive on sight,” said the Minister of Education a few days before the school holidays began. “We will monitor the infection process over the summer vacation very closely and continue to coordinate with experts.” In addition to regular operations from mid-August, the ministry also has two other options in mind: one essentially corresponds to the situation of the schools to date since the gradual opening began on April 27.
For this purpose, the Ministry of Education presented an initial hygiene plan on April 22, which became a model for other federal states and provides for the alternation of classroom and distance learning. Smaller learning groups in the classroom then allow compliance with the distance rule. The other scenario would provide for new school closings due to an acute massive infection. A regular school should look different in Corona times than before, said Hubig. “That’s why the new school year has to be well prepared.”
Hygiene officer in every school
But “pupils have a right to education, a right to school as a social space.” The hygiene plan, which was sent to all schools in Rhineland-Palatinate on Tuesday evening, stated that “compliance with the distance rule could” in particular differ between students in all school types and grades “. “Wherever possible, a minimum distance of 1.50 m should be maintained.” The hygiene plan continues to give the school community guidelines for personal hygiene, room hygiene and hygiene in the sanitary area. What is new is the provision that a hygiene officer or a hygiene team is appointed in each school.
Criticism from the Association of Philologists
Shortly before the new hygiene plan was published, the state chair of the philologists’ association, Cornelia Schwartz, had expressed concern. The teachers at the high schools in Rhineland-Palatinate are concerned that if the distance rule is waived, the risk of corona infections increases. “Many colleagues mirrored me back: They are afraid,” said Schwartz.
In regular operations, attendance is again mandatory for all teachers who are not acutely ill. Teachers who are considered to be at risk due to their age or previous illnesses can then no longer easily stay at home.