In North Rhine-Westphalia, a mask obligation also applies in class in secondary schools after the summer holidays. What is Bavaria doing? The cabinet will discuss it on Monday. Educational associations are divided on the issue.
Munich (dpa / lby) – Teachers, parents and student representatives in Bavaria are divided over a general mask requirement imaginable also in the classroom. Ahead of an unscheduled cabinet videoconference on Monday, the Bavarian Teachers’ Association (BLLV), the Parents Association of High School Students and the State Student Council were skeptical to negatives – and warned against the possible consequences for children in the socio-emotional field. The Association of Philologists and the Association of High School Principals, on the other hand, said that with the increase in the number of corona, a mask requirement would also be the lesser evil in the classroom compared to d other measures.
In Monday’s video link, the cabinet also wants to give advice on how to continue in schools after the summer break. Education Minister Michael Piazolo (Free Voters) recently presented a four-step plan, according to which a mask requirement should apply in the classroom instead, even in elementary schools. A mask requirement should therefore also apply in the classroom if the number of infections is higher. More recently, however, North Rhine-Westphalia decided that a mask should also be worn in class during the new school year in all secondary and vocational schools. This has now fueled the debate in Bavaria.
BLLV president Simone Fleischmann said political decisions should be accepted. Personally, his assessment is clear: “Lessons with masks are not normal lessons”. This would have negative consequences on the acquisition of skills as well as in the social and emotional field. If the number of infections increases, we must weigh which is better: face-to-face lessons for all children with a mask at the same time – or lessons again only with half-lessons and at a distance, but without a mask. Various factors should be taken into account in this weighting – medical and educational.
The president of the National Association of Parents of High School Students, Susanne Arndt, warned: “The extent to which children and teachers typically wear a mask in class for several hours should be the absolute last resort.” Because the consequences of such a measure would not be foreseeable. “Before you do that, you should ask yourself if it wouldn’t be smarter to isolate each class, so to speak, in order to reduce the number of encounters and therefore the chances of infection,” she said. .
The state student council advocates a mask requirement on school premises. Mandatory classroom masks are too big a restriction on what happens in the classroom, Bavarian secondary school student spokesperson Lucas Pflugfelder said. The state student council is therefore asking that the mask requirement “only apply to headquarters and not during class.”
The president of the association of philologists, Michael Schwägerl, said that a general requirement for a mask in the classroom had not yet been ruled out. “Because the last few months have shown that there is no substitute for face-to-face teaching and the goal must be to receive it,” he said. “If the number of infections increases, then classroom masks are certainly the lesser evil compared to a weekly change pattern or a complete school shutdown.” However, the measures must still be anchored in society as a whole: “If masks are systematically mandatory in the classroom, you have to think of a stricter mask requirement in restaurants, for example.”
Birgit Reiter of the association’s state board stressed that they are trying to do everything to start the new school year in September with regular operations. But she added: “While it’s not a good idea for our students, like teachers, to have to breathe behind masks for hours on end: if masks are really effective in protecting health, they have to be used.” It will soon be found out how the general mask requirement in other federal states turns out.
“If the number of infections in Bavaria grows in such a way that it is possible to have as many pupils as possible in schools, then masks are needed,” Reiter argued. “It would also be more beneficial for the social development of children and adolescents than leaving them at home.”