Parents, students and teachers talk about chaos, Education Minister Heinz Faßmann about autonomy. Despite the lockdown, the schools have opened. “The schools remain open for everyone who needs them,” explains the Ministry of Education on its website. According to the current decree, “nationwide distance learning is not planned”. Students who do not want to come are allowed to stay away for days without a doctor’s certificate. Depending on the state and type of school, different numbers did this. Nationwide, around 75 percent of students have attended regular classes since Monday, 90 percent were in Vienna, around 60 percent in Lower Austria, at the elementary schools there were significantly fewer, and more at the upper grades.
Some school principals complain: where is plan A, B, C? You feel left alone. Student representatives like the Salzburg state school spokeswoman Theresa Golser also complain: “The hybrid lessons last school year were horrific. Then it’s better to do it completely in distance learning. ”The virologists also explain: A lockdown is only effective if the schools are also closed. In addition, there is the record incidence in 6 to 14 year olds. They are currently the most severely affected age group with 2400. The risk of fining at school is particularly high.
The pressure on Faßmann is growing, according to insiders also within the coalition, but the minister is doing his best against nationwide distance learning and has initially prevailed. Soon a clear regulation will also come into force on Friday, at the latest on Monday. If two students tested positive for Covid, the entire class must stay at home for five days and switch to distance learning. The problem: what happens after five days, if eight students test positive, others not. According to Faßmann’s request, the students who are not infected with Covid should then have the opportunity to return to school, whether it always makes sense – for example if almost all students in a class are infected – should be decided on site. You cannot decide everything centrally.
Why is Faßmann blocking a “simple” nationwide lockdown for schools? “So far, children and young people have suffered from the pandemic,” he said on Tuesday in the ORF report. “You showed incredible solidarity with the elderly and with my age generation. We should give them back a piece of normality. ” Above all, they needed exchanges with their peers. “
Incidentally, the high Covid-19 numbers are also due to the many school tests. “If we didn’t test so much, we wouldn’t have such high numbers.” In the case of closed schools, the question arises: What do we do with those nurses who have children again. Children needed care at home again. And: if all schools switch to distance learning, uneducated households will be disadvantaged. In addition, there would be considerable psychological problems if children were only at home.
Faßmann remains tough: But if the incidence in adolescents continues to rise, it will be more and more difficult for him to maintain this line. The latest PCR tests and wastewater analysis make the minister optimistic.