Everyone should go to school – that is the declared goal of the state government. To this end, at the beginning of the school year, in accordance with student, parent and teacher associations, it stipulated that there would be regular operations in general, albeit with strict hygiene requirements. This is generally seen as the lesser evil compared to digital teaching at home, so-called homeschooling. What are the rules that currently apply to the approximately 6200 Bavarian schools? An overview.
Where does the mask requirement apply?
After the autumn break, i.e. from November 9th, all teachers and all pupils must generally wear a mask on the school premises and in class. Even in elementary schools. Before that, it depended on the prevailing local infection; this condition no longer exists in the current Bavarian Infection Protection Measures Ordinance.
That means: the mask requirement applies on the whole school premises, in the corridors, in the playground and also in the classrooms. Only those people do not have to adhere to it, for whom wearing a mouth and nose cover “is not possible or unreasonable due to a disability or for health reasons”. Students who ignore the mask requirement can be sent home. The independent cities and districts can, however, waive the mask requirement in class with a special permit – the city of Munich and some districts have done this for their primary schools, for example.
When does homeschooling happen?
The Ministry of Culture has developed a three-step plan that provides for certain measures, depending on the number of infections. In level 3, i.e. with a seven-day incidence of 50 or more, a minimum distance of 1.50 meters should consequently be maintained in the rooms. Since this is not possible in very few classrooms, this actually means: face-to-face lessons in small groups and distance lessons at home alternate. The classes are divided, the students take turns going to school or homeschooling. However, this measure is not an automatic mechanism, but a general recommendation by the Ministry of Culture. The respective health department decides on a case-by-case basis what exactly applies in a city or in a district with increasing numbers of infections.
Whole classes are repeatedly quarantined because of a Covid case, and sometimes entire schools are closed, but very few municipalities have so far ordered nationwide homeschooling. The limit of 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants has been exceeded within a week since mid-October almost everywhere in Bavaria, and since the beginning of November even across the board. For critics of the current Corona school policy, this is evidence of poor leadership and unclear guidelines from the Ministry of Culture.
How is it in the classrooms?
In regular operation, i.e. with an incidence value of less than 35, students do not have to keep a distance from one another in the classroom. However, there is a one and a half meter distance between them and the teachers. The children should sit at individual tables facing the front and not share any materials such as rulers or pens. If groups mix, as in ethics, religion or foreign language classes, the students in one class should sit together and keep their distance from the other group. Rooms must be ventilated at least every 45 minutes for at least five minutes, tilted windows are not enough. In modern schools with ventilation systems, the municipalities responsible for equipping the buildings should reprogram the systems for more fresh air and open locked windows during the holidays.
If the incidence value is between 35 and 50 (level 2), the local health department can decide to forego the minimum distance in the classroom anyway. If it is over 50 (level 3), it should actually make the minimum distance mandatory – as described above, this rarely happens.
Which rules apply on the school premises?
Mask requirement and distance apply everywhere on the school premises. In order to keep the mix of all pupils to a minimum and so that infections remain traceable, the schools must mark walking routes and equalize breaks and lesson times. In the school yard and in the cafeteria, children of one class or the upper school are allowed to be together, but must keep their distance from other groups. A distance of 1.5 meters also applies in queues in front of the kiosk or in front of the toilets. Paper towels must be laid out there, hand-held blowers are prohibited because of the aerosols.
When do children have to stay at home?
Mild cold symptoms: Students with a cold and “occasional cough” are only allowed to go back to school if they have not developed a fever after 24 hours. Anyone who still shows up at school must be picked up again. If the seven-day incidence on site is more than 50, students must also either present a doctor’s certificate or a negative corona test. An exception applies to elementary school students: As in daycare centers, they are also allowed to go to school with a sniff nose – as long as the seven-day incidence does not exceed 50.
Flu-like symptoms: Sick pupils with symptoms such as fever, cough or earache are only allowed to go back to school if they have been symptom-free for 24 hours and fever-free for 36 hours. If the seven-day incidence is higher than 50, you need a negative corona test or a medical certificate in order to be able to go back to class.
When are schools closed, when are individual classes?
If a pupil falls ill with Covid-19, his or her class is sent home as a whole and has to be quarantined for two weeks. After that, classes will take place again, unless the local health department decides otherwise. If a teacher falls ill, he or she is not allowed to teach and has to be quarantined. The health department will decide whether this also applies to other teachers and students.
If a Covid-19 case occurs in a senior year, the entire class or the entire senior year is tested for corona. The students have to be in quarantine, but they can interrupt it if a final exam is due – for these then stricter hygiene requirements apply.
Closing schools completely, as happened across the board in spring 2020, should be an exception, according to the Ministry of Culture. It depends on the number of infections, ultimately the local health department decides. Then the students are taught what is known as homeschooling, the Ministry speaks of “distance teaching”.
Are there any subject lessons?
Physics, chemistry, music and sports are allowed again this school year subject to certain conditions. Teachers decide whether and, if so, which sport is possible. If the incidence rises above 35, older students are only allowed to exercise without a mask if they keep their distance. If the infection rate rises to more than 50, elementary and special school students must also wear masks and keep their distance. Distance applies in the changing rooms; Showering is only possible under the strictest conditions.
For example, if children cannot wash their hands after every jump on parallel bars or bars, all students have to do this before and after the sports lesson. Thorough cleaning after each use also applies to computer rooms, devices in chemistry or physics and musical instruments. Aerosol emissions are particularly high in music lessons. Therefore, students must keep a distance of two meters when singing and in instrumental lessons with wind instruments. After each wind lesson, the room must be aired for 15 minutes. Singers should sing staggered in one direction. Music rooms must be ventilated for ten minutes every 20 minutes.
What applies on the way to school?
A mask is required in local public transport and on school buses. If young people go or cycle to school, they should keep their distance. The Free State pays more money for additional amplifier school buses.