The debate over corona measures in Hamburg schools is causing frustration among parents, teachers and students. In Hamburg, for example, the mask requirement has been relaxed and the frequency of testing must now be reduced after Easter.
Opinion on corona protection measures varies considerably in Hamburg schools. While the mood of pupils is very different, parents and the education union GEW are critical of the relaxation already in place and planned.
“I don’t just want to expose my children to this virus,” says Heiko Habbe from Hamburg. The lawyer has two children who attend high school in Hamburg-Eimsbüttel. Together with other parents “from all over Hamburg”, he launched the “Secure Education for Hamburg” initiative.
A father of two denounces the “contagion” in schools
“What’s happening right now is an epidemic. The virus is being carried home,” Habbe says. “The numbers are high and with masks the simplest corona protection is simply taken away.” According to the Robert Koch Institute, the seven-day incidence in Hamburg on Good Friday is 1000.4. The numbers among school-aged children are higher.
As the Schools and Vocational Training Authority (BSB) reported to t-online, the seven-day incidence among 5-9 year olds in the week of April 4-10 was 2,008 new infections per 100,000 population. For the 10-19 age group, the figure was slightly lower: 1,931. The BSB did not have more recent data on Maundy Thursday.
Opinions divided among schoolchildren in Hamburg
Charlotte Schmiedel, state president of the Hamburg Student Chamber, cannot give a general answer to what students say about the relaxation measures. “It’s a very divided picture. The majority of students still don’t take off their masks. But the number is growing,” says the 18-year-old, who attends grade 12 at a district school in Eimsbüttel.
Student representative Charlotte Schmiedel: The 18-year-old is the state president of the Hamburg Student Association. (Source: private)
Of course, the fear of being infected by the virus is still there. But it’s very different. “It’s a relief for many. Children and young people have suffered enormously from the pandemic. You can tell that the mood is clearly relaxed,” says Schmiedel. A special case are the Abitur classes which are about to take their final exams: “Wear a lot more masks so you don’t fail now”.
“Fewer tests improve statistics”
Heiko Habbe cannot understand all this. “Although the numbers are high, now even less would have to be tested. Of course, this improves the statistics and makes a good figure for the senator”, criticizes the father of the family. “All protective measures are gradually being withdrawn. I don’t see a majority for this among parents. The authorities are being put under pressure by a strong minority.”
School representative Charlotte Schmiedel also says: “All this pressure on society is happening in the schools. It creates a lot of uncertainty. It’s the boys in particular who have often been pilloried during the pandemic. .”
Criticism of the new testing strategy also comes from the union
Like Habbe, the education trade union GEW criticizes the new testing strategy: “The reduction in test frequency is incomprehensible because the corona situation is still tense,” says Sven Quiring, President of GEW Hamburg. “As after spring break, there is a growing incidence after the Easter weekend, when there will be some mobility.” Teachers make up about two-thirds of GEW members.
On request, the school authorities said: “The increased number of tests has more of a psychological effect. Two tests per week are also suitable for reliably detecting infections and breaking infection chains.” In addition, schools in Hamburg are the social area with the most extensive corona security measures, according to the BSB.
Father Heiko Habbe also reports “massive class failures” at school. “Our school management even apologized by e-mail. Obviously, failures cannot be compensated.” Schmiedel says: “Of course, there are more failures than usual. We notice that things are going well or badly differently from school to school.” According to the BSB, there were 309 infections among school staff during the period April 4-10. This corresponds to 0.9% of all school employees in the Hanseatic city.