200 cases in 70 schools
In the middle of the Omicron wave, the schools in Karlsruhe open their doors after the Christmas holidays. The first week is largely normal – despite the omicron and increasing incidences. Masks in the classroom can prevent infection with the omicron variant. Photo: Patrick Pleul/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa There have already been ten confirmed corona cases at the Durlach Pestalozzi School this week, and the result of the PCR test is still pending for eight positive quick tests. “But nobody needs to have too much hope, because this year all positive rapid tests were confirmed,” says Pestalozzi Rector Klaus Kühn. Processing the positive test results has become a daily routine in the first week of school after the Christmas holidays. “More reports are coming in every day,” says the managing director of the primary schools in Karlsruhe. In view of the increasing incidences and the rapid spread of the omicron variant, there is probably no end to the development in sight.
The health department also expects a “significant increase in cases” in the coming days. In the first five school days after the Christmas holidays, a good 200 confirmed corona cases were reported in the 70 schools in Karlsruhe and those affected were quarantined. The office is not aware of any larger infection clusters at a school and so far no entire classes have had to be quarantined, the press office of the district office informed BNN on request.
Hope to continue face-to-face classes
“If it doesn’t get dramatically worse, classroom teaching will also be possible in the coming weeks,” says Uwe Müller, rector of the Max Planck Gymnasium and managing director of the Karlsruhe Gymnasium. It is therefore particularly important that the hygiene concepts in the schools are consistently implemented and that there are no major outbreaks in the schools. According to the health department, schoolchildren can also protect themselves well against infection with the somewhat more contagious omicron variant by wearing a mask and regular airing. The regular rapid tests in schools, from Monday three student tests per week and daily tests for all classmates in the event of an infection in the class, are an additional safety measure for the early detection of corona infections.
Sick teachers cannot be replaced
“It’s always annoying when children can’t go to school because of illness,” says Müller. But in winter there are usually absences due to other colds. And those who are in quarantine can at least still do their homework at home. Because of the shortened quarantine times, infected schoolchildren can now test themselves freely after seven days, children and adolescents who have had direct contact with an infected person even after five. However, Kühn and Müller fear problems if several teachers are absent at the same time due to infection or quarantine. Then individual lessons would have to be held via video transmission or entire classes would have to be sent to distance learning. “Our staff is aware of the dangers of infection,” says Müller. Most of his educational staff are boosted and wear a mask in the school building all the time. “And the ventilation in the staff room makes it so cold that nobody wants to stay there any longer anyway.”
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