The decision was postponed on Wednesday – now Baden-Württemberg’s Prime Minister Kretschmann has announced the procedure. The development in a day care center in Freiburg played an important role.
After the outbreak of the coronavirus mutation in a Freiburg daycare center, Baden-Württemberg has decided not to open daycare centers and primary schools earlier. Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) has decided to continue the corona lockdown in daycare centers and schools until February 14, as he announced on Thursday evening in Stuttgart. The plans for an opening were in place, said Kretschmann. The number of infections is declining, “our measures are working,” said the Green politician.
Opening of daycare centers and elementary schools for Kretschmann “too high a risk”
However, the information about the outbreak of a coronavirus mutation in the day care center in Freiburg on Wednesday had changed the discussion about an opening, explained Kretschmann. “We had the hope that it would take longer for the mutations to spread,” said Kretschmann. But with the outbreak in Freiburg it was found that the mutants were not at the door, “unfortunately they are already there,” continues Kretschmann.
He is extremely sorry not to be able to implement the proposed plan of gradual opening. It would have been too big a risk not to have been allowed to take, the Green politician justified his decision, who appealed for understanding among the population. The big goal is still to push the seven-day incidence below 50 per 100,000 inhabitants.
Significantly more cases of the coronavirus mutation
On Thursday it became known that significantly more people were infected in the Freiburg day care center than was previously known. The mutated variant of the coronavirus was detected in 18 children and educators from the “Immergrün” day care center, as the Breisgau-Hochschwarzwald district office announced during the day. According to Kretschmann, it is the South African variant (B.1.351) – this is considered highly contagious. According to the State Health Office, this virus variant has been isolated in Baden-Württemberg since the end of December. The case in Freiburg was the first outbreak in a daycare center. Meanwhile, a daycare center in Lörrach had to close after several corona infections. As the Lörrach health department announced, it is, as in the Freiburg daycare center, a mutation of the virus infection.
“The idea that we want to open daycare centers and primary schools carefully and gradually has not become irrelevant,” said Kretschmann. It is still aware that young children would suffer most from the consequences of the lockdown. However, the occurrence of the coronavirus mutation made this obsolete.
SPD chief relieves decision
SPD parliamentary group leader Andreas Stoch, who is going into the state election as the top candidate for his party, was relieved by the decision: “I am glad that Prime Minister Kretschmann decided not to reopen schools and daycare centers on Monday,” said Stoch via Twitter . First you have to get the mutations under control and reduce the number of new infections.
The education union GEW also welcomed the move. “The safety of children, young people and educational professionals must come first in all decisions,” said the state chairwoman Monika Stein.
Coronavirus mutation: decision about opening postponed first
Culture minister Susanne Eisenmann (CDU) had warned shortly beforehand to draw “hasty conclusions” from the Freiburg case. The CDU top candidate for the state elections on March 14th had pushed for an opening on February 1st. After the outbreak in the day care center became known on Wednesday, the state government initially postponed its decision. An opening had already been considered, but Kretschmann prevented it in mid-January due to the high number of infections. Now most schools stay closed at least until after the carnival holidays – so until February 21st. But there is still emergency care and exceptions for graduating classes.
“Please only take emergency care if you absolutely need it,” the Prime Minister appealed to the population. At the same time, Kretschmann announced that he wanted to adapt the test strategy. Every positive test for the corona virus will also be checked for the new mutant, said Kretschmann.
“We have to live with the virus and we have to assume that there are more mutants.”
For GEW boss Stein, the clarity for the coming weeks for children, parents and those responsible is a step in the right direction: “Nobody in the daycare centers and schools understands the almost daily discussion in the government coalition about a possible opening”. In view of the risk of virus mutations, which is difficult to assess, it is right to reopen daycare centers and schools at the earliest after the carnival break on February 22nd.
The union is therefore calling for concepts for teaching and upbringing up to the summer holidays. “All in all, it would be easier for everyone involved if the schools were given more planning security,” said the deputy state chairman Ricarda Kaiser. The constant creation of new timetables, hygiene and room concepts as well as organizational structures is exhausting and grueling for everyone. Around 350 school principals from all types of schools from all over Baden-Württemberg also come together on Friday.
Discussion about how to deal with the corona pandemic
On Thursday the discussion about the consequences of the Freiburg case had picked up further. Health Minister Manfred Lucha (Greens) and Eisenmann argued about the potential consequences of the increasingly more frequently detected virus mutations in Baden-Württemberg and what conclusions should be drawn from them.
Health Minister Manfred Lucha (Greens) considers opening daycare centers and schools in the state to be currently not feasible in view of the virus mutation in several cases in a Freiburg daycare center. Education Minister Susanne Eisenmann defended the emergency care.
Green politician Manfred Lucha spoke out against an early opening of daycare centers and schools. In a letter to Eisenmann on Thursday, he instead called on the minister of education to limit emergency care. Eisenmann opposed this and called on the Ministry of Health and the State Health Office to first “completely” clarify the exact facts at the day care center in Freiburg.