The canton of Bern is in favor of the reintroduction of the mask requirement from the 5th grade. An SP national councilor calls for the return of the preventive mass tests.

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The canton of Bern wants a mask requirement in schools from the 5th grade.

20min/Marco Zangger

He would prefer a national regulation.  He has therefore submitted a request to the Federal Council.

He would prefer a national regulation. He has therefore submitted a request to the Federal Council.

20min/Marco Zangger

There is no longer any regular spitting in schools in the canton of Bern.

There is no longer any regular spitting in schools in the canton of Bern.

Franziska Rothenbuehler / Tamedia AG

  • The canton of Bern wants to reintroduce the mask requirement in schools in addition to the outbreak test.

  • For SP National Councilor Flavia Wasserfallen, this is not enough: she criticizes the canton for abolishing the broad tests when the number of cases increases – and calls for them to be reintroduced.

  • The Bern Health Directorate, on the other hand, considers outbreak testing to be more effective.

The canton of Bern has spoken out in favor of the reintroduction of the mask requirement in schools, more precisely from the fifth grade. He has submitted a request to the Federal Council, as Gundekar Giebel, spokesman for the Bern Health Directorate, confirmed to the “Berner Zeitung”. The Bernese would welcome a national regulation. It had “already happened that the canton regulated the mask requirement in schools and a little later the federal government issued requirements that were not entirely congruent with the cantonal solution, which posed challenges for schools,” said Giebel. Depending on the epidemiological situation, one reserves the right to take measures independently at the cantonal level.

On the other hand, the canton of Bern recently abolished the weekly mass spit tests in schools. Instead, testing is only carried out in the event of outbreaks. Not everyone thinks that is good. SP National Councilor Flavia, for example, criticized the Berner Weg on Twitter by contrasting it with the expansion of the certificate requirement decided by the Federal Council on Wednesday:

“Breadth tests would be very important”

Health Minister Alain Berset did not call on the cantons until the end of August to carry out regular corona tests across the board at schools, says Wasserfallen, when asked for 20 minutes. The situation has worsened since the Federal Council’s appeal. “We are currently having outbreaks in various schools in the canton of Bern. The number of new infections among children is increasing faster than in any other age group. This shows that breadth tests are very important, ”says Wasserfallen.

It is also known that adolescents often show no symptoms despite being infected. It is therefore “incomprehensible and irresponsible that the canton has abolished the mass tests in the current situation.” The health politician calls for these to be reintroduced immediately. Wasserfallen sees no alternative in the reintroduction of the mask requirement: “I suspect that the canton made a wrong decision here because of cost considerations. Testing costs, but it is more efficient and less restrictive for the students than a mask requirement. ”

Participation rate in mass tests too low

The Bern Health Directorate replied that financial considerations did not play a role in the discontinuation of the weekly mass tests. Rather, these were simply no longer effective, says spokesman Gundekar Giebel about 20 minutes: “An interval of one week is too long from an epidemiological point of view, as an infectious person can be at school for six days. You would have had to switch to two to three test rounds a week. ” In addition, only between 50 and 70 percent of the students took part in the voluntary mass tests. “The participation rate should have been increased to around 80 percent so that the broad tests could have developed their effect,” said Giebel.

On the other hand, due to the mandatory participation in the outbreak test, infections could be detected with greater certainty, says the spokesman. A quarantine can be ordered for people who refuse to take the test. Giebel is therefore convinced: “With targeted outbreak testing with mandatory testing, we can do more to combat the pandemic than with voluntary mass tests.”

The Bern government council is watching the development of the Covid situation with concern. “The number of corona patients transferred to intensive care units, which has increased in recent weeks, means that the hospitals have to postpone planned operations,” wrote the cantonal government in a statement on Thursday. As a result, people affected by an illness would suffer and additional costs would arise for the general public. The government council therefore considers the extension of the certificate requirement decided by the Federal Council to be an “important step towards containing the pandemic and thus relieving the burden on the health system”.

He also appeals to the population to get vaccinated. The number of those vaccinated for the first time in the canton of Bern has reached the mark of around 640,000 people these days, which corresponds to over 60 percent of the population. It is now a matter of “reaching those people living in the canton of Bern who, due to their culture and language, have not yet been won over to the vaccination step”.

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