So far, classmates and teachers of corona-infected students also had to be in quarantine. Frankfurt and Offenbach are now moving away from it. The cities want to keep schools open when the number of infections increases. Some circles go other ways.
With the increase in new corona infections, pupils and teachers who tested positive are also increasingly counting in Hesse: 26,123 of around 760,000 pupils did not take part in face-to-face classes on Monday due to quarantine, as the Ministry of Culture did communicated. This corresponds to a rate of 3.4 percent. For teachers it was 2,613 out of 62,500 (4.2 percent). According to the ministry, both percentages were permanently below one percent before the autumn break.
But the conditions under which students and teachers are exempted from face-to-face teaching and are sent to quarantine or distance teaching by the health authorities differs significantly across Hesse between the rural districts and independent cities.
Entire classes only in exceptional cases home
In Frankfurt and the city of Offenbach, classmates and teachers of students who tested positive are no longer sent to quarantine, as the cities confirmed on request. “Currently it would only be necessary in exceptional cases to suspend classroom operations in entire classes,” wrote the Frankfurt health department on Monday. In both cities, the seven-day incidence (number of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants) has been over 200 for two weeks.
Parents had reported to the hr about primary and high school classes in Frankfurt, in which only the child who tested positive was sent home. Face-to-face lessons were ordered for classmates and teachers, corona tests were only partially offered.
Wear masks and ventilate classrooms
“With a consistent mask requirement and regular airing of the classrooms, the city of Frankfurt considers this approach to be justifiable, even with high case numbers,” said the Frankfurt health department.
However: Until the positive test result of a second grader in Frankfurt last week, in one case the entire class – in accordance with the Corona rules that apply to them – did not wear mouth and nose protection in class, as parents reported. Nevertheless, classmates and teachers stayed in class afterwards. The only requirement: a mask is required in class for the next 14 days.
Offenbach: procedure for parents “not always comprehensible”
“The health department assesses every case of infection at a school in detail and checks the exact circumstances,” wrote the Frankfurt authority. The strategy in Offenbach is similar: possible risks for classmates would be considered on a case-by-case basis, a spokesman said on request. “Therefore there is no uniform procedure.”
The city of Offenbach does not currently count classmates who wear masks as close contacts to a student who tested positive and allows them to continue to participate in the class. Corona tests at schools could “no longer be ensured in all cases” due to capacity bottlenecks. The city admits that it is well known that its approach is “not always understandable” for parents.
Parents complain about loss of trust
The Frankfurt City Parents ‘Advisory Board is now complaining about the parents’ loss of confidence in politics and government offices. Information about corona infections in schools was insufficiently passed on to parents, criticized chairwoman Julia Frank on Monday. Frankfurt parents found out that there were corona infections in a class or in the class, sometimes through their children, sometimes through parent representatives or sometimes through the school management, as some told the hr.
Frank demands that it should be possible for the school management to be able to inform parents, for example by email, of the grades in which there are corona cases, but so far their hands are tied. “This creates the impression that something is being swept under the carpet.”
Ministry of Culture: Ensure regular operations as much as possible
Despite rising corona numbers, the cities of Frankfurt and Offenbach are still trying to implement what Minister of Education Alexander Lorz (CDU) wrote to all Hessian schools at the end of October: “to ensure regular school operations to the greatest possible extent”.
Schools in both cities are in the so-called “restricted regular operation” – in level two of a total of four. The ministry did not define the requirements for level three (alternating face-to-face and distance teaching) or four (distance teaching). The SPD and the Left Party want to make this aspect the subject of a current hour in the state parliament on Thursday.