The new 2022/23 school year in Lower Saxony begins after the summer holidays on Thursday, August 25th, with an intensified test phase – albeit on a voluntary basis: on the first five school days up to and including Wednesday, August 31st, the pupils can do their homework test before they go to school. After the end of the intensive test phase, the schools the previous and tried-and-tested procedure with voluntary test offers for all schoolchildren and employees. For this purpose, the state continues to provide each student with up to 2 tests per week. There is still no obligation to wear a mouth and nose cover. However, a mask can and may be worn voluntarily.
“We used the time during the holidays to evaluate the development of the infection rate in Lower Saxony and the experiences of other federal states that have already started teaching again. The good news is that the current infection situation does not require any additional restrictions,” explains Minister of Education Grant Hendrik Tonne on the planned test strategy for the new school year. At the same time, it is still important and right to guarantee schoolchildren, teachers and all other employees in the schools an appropriately high level of protection.
Tonne continues: “In this way, we also offer security to schoolchildren, parents and teachers in particular, who want or have to be particularly careful for various reasons,” said the minister. “Against this background, after the holidays we will continue our proven concept with slight changes. On the one hand, the current infection process allows testing to remain voluntary. The incidences are falling significantly, the hospitalization rates are also falling and the situation is more relaxed compared to before the summer holidays. There is no justification whatsoever for treating children and young people more severely than the wider society. On the other hand, we are intensifying this offer with a view to the usual travel activities during the summer holidays with a test phase on the first 5 school days. This is intended to uncover infections that may have taken place during the last vacation days and to prevent entries in school operations as far as possible. “We therefore recommend making use of the test option.”
The declared goal of the state government is to keep the schools open and to ensure face-to-face teaching, the minister emphasizes, also with a view to past school closures and their consequences, and adds: “Fortunately, this goal is now also being supported at the federal level.”
The Ministry of Education informed the schools, pupils and legal guardians in writing today about the test strategy for the start of school. The schools had already prepared for all options before the summer holidays and had ordered enough tests for a possible intensive test phase. The required test kits are still procured by the state, requested and issued by the schools as required.
Also in the day care centers Lower Saxony is continuing its testing strategy with the recommendation that children be regularly tested voluntarily. The state government will continue to make lollipop tests available to the local child and youth welfare organizations in order to guarantee voluntary testing as part of the local test strategies. By the end of the year, the state will be delivering up to two lollipop tests per week for each child aged three years before school starts, based on needs. The on-site distribution is organized by the child and youth welfare organizations.