AIn the end, the fear of the virus was too great: Because of the ongoing corona risk, Baden-Württemberg has decided not to take a special route and is now closing primary schools and daycare centers at least until the end of January. “We are still at a high level of infections,” said Baden-Wuerttemberg Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) on Thursday in Stuttgart. He therefore agreed with the Minister of Culture, Susanne Eisenmann (CDU), to forego the planned relaxation and not to open the facilities. However, an opening perspective for elementary schools and daycare centers should be developed, should the lockdown apply beyond January.
“We didn’t make it easy for ourselves,” said Kretschmann in a video announcement. “And we know we are demanding a lot from you.” Baden-Württemberg will insist that the issue of opening up primary schools and daycare centers should also be discussed with Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) at the next switching conference between the Prime Ministers.
The federal government in particular has repeatedly spoken out against reopening schools soon. The conference is to be brought forward from the originally planned January 25 to next week, also because of the risk of new virus variants.
Eisenmann, however, was openly critical. The Prime Minister made the decision, she emphasized and added: “I would have liked a differentiated approach.” Children needed a social structure and care. “Children need other children,” said Eisenmann. She suggested opening daycare centers and the first two classes of primary schools in the coming week and teaching at a distance. In a second step, classes three and four could have started.
The minister of education, who is also the CDU’s top candidate for the state elections in March, has repeatedly and vehemently pushed for an opening in the interests of children in recent weeks. She actually wanted to open primary schools and daycare centers last Monday – “regardless of the incidence figures”.
Kretschmann, on the other hand, had recently given massive warnings against the further spread of the corona virus and brought up stricter exit restrictions. “When things get really out of hand, as we see it in London or something, and when the healthcare system collapses, then you have to put in place drastic curfews. That is the only means that is still effective, ”he said at an online citizens’ dialogue on Tuesday evening. He had previously stated that he was skeptical about opening schools and daycare centers.
Kretschmann and Eisenmann had consulted with virologists, epidemiologists and pediatricians via video on Wednesday evening. Recently it had been said time and again that schools were not drivers of the pandemic, but that they were part of the infection process. Merkel said on Tuesday that there would be no clear overview of the infection numbers after the turn of the year before the beginning of next week.
With a relaxation, Baden-Württemberg, which follows a strict Corona course in many areas, would have taken a special route. At the beginning of the year, the federal and state governments extended the lockdown to schools and daycare centers until the end of January. However, the federal states are responsible for education policy, and the decision of the Prime Ministers and the Chancellor gives them leeway. According to this, face-to-face teaching is possible if the presence requirement is suspended. This has been the case in Baden-Württemberg since the summer.
In other federal states, too, schools and daycare centers are in principle open, but more as extended emergency care. The presence requirement is suspended or parents are asked not to bring their children – for example in Hesse. So one avoided creating exception rules for certain occupational groups for emergency care.