One of the biggest questions asked by most governments is the timing of reopening schools. With the virus still at large, many fear that opening schools to soon could result in further damages caused by COVID-19. Europe having been the hardest hit continent, can now breathe a sigh of relief as numbers appear to be decreasing. As many countries begin to lift lockdown restrictions, much is is still unknown about the virus. Measures such as social distancing and wearing of masks remain in place to help limit the spread of this disease.
Speaking in a news conference in Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced measures to ease restrictions further and reopen schools. The move comes after Germany saw a decline in the number of new cases. Merkel went on to say the country’s reproduction rate of the virus had fallen below one, with less than 1000 new daily infections. “We have been successful in reaching our target of slowing down the spread of the virus,” Merkel said.
Coping with the Virus and Reopening Schools in Germany
After talks with the 16 leaders of all German states, Merkel first announced the opening of schools from April 20. The German school system began with high school seniors being first in line to return to school. The phased introduction of school hopes to limit capacity and keep with social distancing regulations. During this time, other learners would continue with distance learning as set out during the initial lockdown phase. The ongoing talks between the ministry of education hopes to tackle issues impacting disadvantaged learners during this crisis.
Each federal state will set guidelines for younger children on how to phase in reopening of schools. The Chancellor also said that priority should be given to graduating students. As of May 4, most German schools reopened for in-classroom learning. One of the ways schools in Germany are social distancing, is by cutting down the number of pupils per class. Also, groups are attending class on alternating days.
The government said children attending school at some of the most affected parts of the country would be allowed to continue with distance learning. This comes after the parents of Saxony voiced their concerns about sending their kids back to school over fears of the virus.
Universities and International Students During COVID-19
As a measure to limit social gatherings of large groups and keep in line with social guidelines, German universities were advised to prepare learners for distance learning. Universities across the country resumed lectures at the beginning of the summer term while some universities remained open for research purposes. Returning international students from their home country would be subjected to a 14-day quarantine period. This applies to learners at any higher education institute in Bavaria, with universities in other states expected to follow suit. Also, DAAD announced a suspension on its scholarship program for its 2020 summer semester. However, support will still be available for students already holding a scholarship.
Also, see how Germany is loosening some of its other lockdown restrictions.