The fragile school promise of the Minister of Education

The second corona wave has been going on in Israel for a long time. In Australia and Japan as well, in the USA, the number of new infections is higher than ever. The number of infections has recently risen again in Germany, the Robert Koch Institute describes the development as “very worrying”.

Without falling into alarmism immediately, a look abroad shows: Helge Braun, head of the Federal Chancellery, who was only a few days old, believes that Germany is currently “in control” of the virus can only be a “snapshot”, as he says himself. Especially during the holiday season.

There are no reliable criteria for how long regular operation will last

Exactly that makes the promise of the ministers of culture to return to normal school activities everywhere after the summer holidays, if and as long as “the infection process allows it”, so fragile. Because there are still no reliable criteria as to when the infection would be too violent for regular operations in the opinion of the federal states.

This is an enormous shortcoming – especially if you don't look at the same time may give the impression that the right to education is still not a top political priority for some politicians and in some parts of the Federal Republic. There is no other explanation for the fact that Bavaria's CSU Prime Minister Markus Söder said recently that he was “not yet so convinced that regular lessons would be given,” but CSU Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer said that viewers could be seen again in the autumn Leave football stadiums.

According to studies, children under the age of ten are less likely to become infected

at least as far as the younger students and their role in the pandemic are concerned, they are now quite robust. Children under ten years of age not only contract infections less often, they also pass on the virus much less frequently: according to a new, extensive study from South Korea, it is about half as often as adults, which tends to be consistent with numerous other tests, including from Germany .

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The second wave in Israel seems to be driven by older students

The same South Korean study certified the 10 – until 19 – adolescents, however, the highest transmission rate of all age groups, four times as high as in the smaller children. This could be exaggerated, especially since the investigation only started a very small number of infection chains among adolescents.

The study situation for 10- to 19 – Overall, yearlings more contradictory. It has been evident for some time that they become more contagious with age. In addition, it actually seems as if the second corona wave in Israel had just been driven by older students.

Ein Porträtbild von Jan-Martin Wiarda.

Our columnist Jan-Martin Wiarda. Photo: Private

So what is also emerging: Education policy will have to differentiate. It is epidemiologically justifiable and there is an urgent social and educational policy to keep daycare centers and elementary schools in full operation for as long as possible in a second wave – and really only as an ultima ratio, if, for example, shops and restaurants are long overdue , but then accessible to all children. Complete closings are no longer allowed for under – 10 year olds

Background information about the corona virus:

  • Visual journey: How the coronavirus affects the body
  • Interactive map: All coronavirus cases by counties and federal states
  • The riddle of R: That is behind the reproduction number
  • Glossary: ​​The technical terms of the corona pandemic and what they mean

At the same time, however, the upper classes will have to go to distance learning in mixed or, in absolute emergencies, much earlier than the lower classes – the sooner the older the youngsters are. The prerequisite for this is a daily digital offer that really works.

Differentiation is necessary

It is clear Also: Politicians must communicate this differentiation to schools, parents and students before the start of the school year, including understandable threshold criteria for regions and federal states. The Ministers of Education should now push for this. That takes courage, but otherwise the political debate will slip again if the infection numbers really get out of control.

And then heads of government like Markus Söder are the first to do so free of any gradation and scientific foundation, first shut down all educational institutions. Also the daycare centers and elementary schools.

The author is a journalist for education and lives in Berlin. On his blog he comments on current events in schools and universities.