Schools in North Rhine-Westphalia: Warning of the end of the mask requirement

Status: 10/26/2021 10:29 a.m.

In North Rhine-Westphalia, the mask requirement for schoolchildren could soon drop – as recently in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. Politicians, teachers and medical professionals warn against this. The timing for this is extremely unfavorable.

Politicians, teachers, doctors, schoolchildren and schoolchildren warn against the lifting of the mask requirement in North Rhine-Westphalian schools. “NRW should keep the mask requirement in schools in view of the increasing incidence. Masks are of great importance for the fourth wave, also in schools”, demanded SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach in the “Rheinische Post”.

Japan shows with consistent mask requirement that the fourth wave can be fought without lockdown. School closings must be avoided at all costs this winter, emphasized Lauterbach. “If you want to do without masks in school, you have to test three times a week before class, otherwise there is a risk of dropping out of school due to the high number of cases.” Because the incidences would increase in all age groups. “Masks are the better solution. School closings are a problem for the children and young people, but the masks are not.”

Infection numbers are increasing

The state chairman of the philologists’ association, Sabine Mistler, also told the newspaper: The waiver of masks at this point in time was “simply too early”. “We shouldn’t take any unnecessary risks, because classroom teaching is still important and necessary – and the number of infections is increasing, including among schoolchildren.”

Frank Bergmann, head of the North Rhine National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, agrees. He urged the state government to adhere to the mask requirement: “Knowing well that children and adolescents generally have a lower risk of a more severe course of the disease, the current point in time for ending the protective measures in schools seems extremely unfavorable, especially against the background of the current situation increasing incidences and the associated dynamics of the infection process in the regions. “

Many students are still unvaccinated

The students concerned are also skeptical: “We see the step critically because we have increasing incidence and the younger students are still unvaccinated,” said Johanna Börgermann, board member of the state student council, the “Rheinische Post”. Many twelve to 17-year-olds would not have been able to get vaccinated: “It is incomprehensible that the masks should now be dropped in the group in which the incidence is particularly high, of all places.”

Mask affects and is stressful

Federal Minister of Education Anja Karliczek (CDU), however, understands. She told the newspapers of the editorial network in Germany that she could understand that in many schools the mask requirement had been lifted or is now being lifted. Wearing masks interferes with normal lessons and is stressful for the students. “However, if the mask requirement is relaxed, tests should continue or even more in schools,” warned Karliczek. “That is especially true in the period after the autumn break.”

The minister said that the schools should also be tested regularly afterwards for reasons of health protection. “It’s uncomfortable, but we mustn’t ignore the development of the infection.” If the incidence increases again significantly, “a reintroduction of the mask requirement in schools could be considered”.

Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg: Incidences are increasing

NRW School Minister Yvonne Gebauer (FDP) and Health Minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) announced before the autumn holidays that they would make a decision this week. Federal states such as Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg had lifted the mask requirement before the autumn break – the incidence among schoolchildren has recently increased sharply. In the NRW school ministry it was said that the schools would be informed by Thursday at the latest how to proceed, “as part of an overall view of the infection situation,” as the NRW health ministry emphasized.

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