Should schools have a shorter day

Rapid tests in schools: Openly yes, just how?

The math problem facing the federal states is, admittedly, not entirely banal: There are around ten million schoolchildren in Germany who are taught in buildings with different access and escape routes, ventilation and window systems. To protect against infection, they should have as little contact as possible with one another. Attention should be paid to the development of local incidences and vaccination progress. And the task is now: Find responsible rules for a school operation, taking into account the possibility of performing quick tests!

It is made even more complicated by the fact that different forces are pulling on the ministers of education and training. Some want to shut down the whole country temporarily, others prefer to have as few restrictions as possible for children and young people. But does it really make sense to only work halfway through the task and then hand it in?

During this week, schools were resumed in many federal states after the Easter break, in others the holidays will end soon. There is online tuition here and there, elsewhere many classes return to teaching at half strength. Rapid tests in schools, as they have long been required to break chains of infection, should finally be available nationwide. The Kultusministerkonferenz has proclaimed a "comprehensive test strategy" with "sufficient capacities". Actually, good news.


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And yet, attrition is palpable among parents and school administrators. There is a lack of orientation because there is no conclusive concept of how tests are carried out by whom and what should be done after positive results. Basically there is no institution, a kind of expert commission of the Conference of Ministers of Education, which says: federalism rules ok, So do what you want, dear countries, but this practical plan that we have drawn up here is good - and anyone who does not want to implement it should have a better one. Instead, people seem to meander through, together, but each country for itself. And here and there the concepts are only half finished.

Why not test roads?

In Berlin, for example, face-to-face classes have been running again for most of the age groups since Monday. Tests that are already available at schools in other countries are only available in the second week of school. Why not sync that? Certainly there are reasons: lack of time, general complexity of finding political compromises, this, that. For many parents, however, half a test strategy in this phase of the pandemic is unsettling. Is testing now the protective measure that is considered to be particularly important for everyone who has anything to do with school, and thus also for families - or is it not so crucial? If it matters, why do you cultivate such indifference? The State Parents' Committee called the way classes started after the Easter break "grossly negligent". "Given the current infection situation, face-to-face teaching must not start again without regular testing of the students, the educational staff and other school staff." But he did. How do you feel when you bring a six-year-old child to the school gate in the morning?

In Rhineland-Palatinate, where the holidays ended a week ago, people wondered whether the teachers really had to be responsible for supervising the tests. Parents shouldn't take it over, even if they wanted to, for example because the ministry wants to have an overview of how many children are reliably participating. A conceivable alternative would be a kind of test road, like the one found in many schools in Austria, on which parents could accompany and test their children on the edge of the school yard. A simple variant of a test road requires chalk for the path markings and a couple of covered tables. In Germany you think about something like that locally and then you don't do it.

In Bavaria, parents asked themselves, and rightly so, what should actually happen to a child who tested positive until they were picked up? Should it sit alone in a room with the fear on its neck that it might be sick? What if there are two, three or five positive tests in different classes, some of which could turn out to be false positives in the subsequent PCR check? How do you prevent false positive and positive children from coming together?

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As I said, the countries have a complicated task. And it certainly makes sense at the moment to act first and then, if necessary, to make improvements. But many parents - and that is the grueling thing - do not have the impression that too much is being thought about the sensitive area of ​​school, which is supposed to be kept open. Schools are open, but how? If educational institutions really had top priority, the Easter holidays could, for example, have been included in a reasonably elegant lockdown: During this time the schools were closed anyway, so it would have harmed children, adolescents and parents the least. Keeping schools open, that is the impression emanating from this test beta phase, may be a priority. To create convincing concepts, how if you keep it open, you have none.