Almost 7,000 corona cases among Berlin’s students – criticism of the Senate

BerlinAlmost 7,000 schoolchildren across Berlin have been shown to be infected with the corona virus. According to the Corona statistics of the Senate Education Administration on Friday, there were 6911. In view of the almost 337,000 students, these are manageable numbers. But the change is unmistakable: According to the educational administration’s step-by-step plan a week ago, all of the more than 800 Berlin schools belonged to the group marked green, in which face-to-face teaching is possible without restrictions. This time there are already 15 schools that are marked in yellow and are moving to alternating classes. Parent representatives are demanding consequences – such as the lifting of compulsory attendance, which stipulates that all students have to come to school.

“I do believe that we have reached the point where parents must be given the opportunity to make this decision for their child,” said the chairman of the state parents’ committee, Norman Heise, on Friday of the German Press Agency. “Repeatedly pointing out that the schools remain open is not a decision in favor of the children.” From the parents’ point of view, that is wrong.

The Berlin Senate is sticking to the obligation to be present

“It is only this economic interest that the parents should be available at the workplace,” said Heise. Even before Christmas, the State Parents’ Committee had called for an end to compulsory attendance in the event that the pandemic situation worsened. The spokesman for the education administration, Martin Klesmann, said on Friday: “We are sticking to the obligation to be present.”

Pupils suffered massively from the school closures last year. “They suffer from learning gaps and psychosocial impairments. This has now been proven by numerous studies, and many school administrations report it,” Klesmann continued. “Of course we realize that some parents are worried about the obligation to be present.” But there are good reasons for this.

Klesmann defended the phased plan, which provides for a plan A, B and C for each school. “The health authorities, in consultation with the regional school supervisory board, examine each individual school very carefully and then take the appropriate measures.”

Parent representative Heise sees reason for criticism of the line of the new education senator Astrid-Sabine Busse (SPD) in other places: If teachers should fail on a large scale in view of the pandemic development, then the lessons would be in danger, he said. “Of course, classes will be canceled again.”

Then it had to be clarified which classes would be taught more intensively. The step-by-step plan provides that the graduating classes should have priority. “Of course, that disadvantages the classes that came out of the lockdown relatively late and have larger gaps.” Heise admitted that it was difficult to find a balanced solution to this question.

From his point of view, it is also unclear how it can be achieved that teachers who are in quarantine but are not ill themselves should work. “How does this affect teaching, can you then teach from home? That will not work in all schools and in all grades,” said Heise.

The State Parents’ Committee is also in favor of saying goodbye to taking all parts of the examination for the middle school certificate (MSA). He wants to suggest to the education senator that, as in the previous Corona years, only rely on the presentation part – and refrain from the other exams.

The education administration sees the chances of being able to hold on to classroom teaching even in times of the Omicron variant as much more positive: the new quarantine rules made it much easier, said Klesmann. “Many teachers have been boosted and then no longer need to be in quarantine.” If there is a noticeable number of teachers in quarantine at a school, the school management can decide in consultation with the school supervisory board which special rules should then apply. “If the worst comes to the worst, year groups and classes relevant to the degree have priority.”

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