Thuringia does not want to introduce compulsory tests in schools

Et was early Tuesday afternoon when Thuringia’s Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow (Die Linke) sent the words “White smoke over the State Chancellery” to the world via Twitter. In Erfurt, of course, no new Pope was elected that day; the political controversy at issue had undoubtedly secular reasons. The topic was the sharply rising number of corona infections in the Free State, which made all three partners of the minority government – the Left, SPD and Greens – nervous, as well as, in the opinion of the SPD in particular, the too lax containment of the pandemic in schools – also because Thuringia is the only federal state so far has not introduced a compulsory test.

Stefan Locke

Correspondent for Saxony and Thuringia based in Dresden.

As in the previous year, Thuringia enjoyed an almost infection-free summer this year. But within a few days the infection rate increased so much that the country was once again catapulted from the very back to the top position for new infections. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported a seven-day incidence of 147.1 on Tuesday, which was well ahead of Bavaria (116.1) and Saxony (113.7).

SPD politicians in particular believed that the reason for this was the lack of compulsory tests in schools. Thuringia made it “thanks to the massively criticized waiver of tests in schools”, wrote SPD Vice President Dorothea Marx on Twitter. It was there that she attacked Education Minister Helmut Holter (left), whom she followed with a “thank you for nothing” and a bitter emoji and asked whether 3G in Thuringia stood for “vaccinated, recovered, died”.

Leading SPD politicians such as chairman Georg Maier, who is also Minister of the Interior in the Free State, and parliamentary group leader Matthias Hey thereupon publicly called for mandatory tests to be introduced in schools. The Greens also jumped on the rolling train and declared that they would end the supposed “blind flight” in combating the virus. But Education Minister Holter was not deterred and referred to the step-by-step plan that all coalition partners had agreed on in early summer and which he intends to adhere to.

At that time, the Left, the SPD and the Greens agreed, based on the resolutions of the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs, that incidence would no longer be the sole yardstick for fighting pandemics in schools and that classroom teaching would be given priority. At the same time, they abolished the obligation to test without cause. It should only apply at the highest warning level, i.e. in the event of a high incidence and large sick leave.

It is about “appropriate protection against infection,” said Education Minister Holter. He does not see why there should be a general compulsory test in schools if this does not apply in all other areas of society such as companies. He doesn’t want children to be on the forefront of infection control again, said Holter. Especially since they encounter a population that is still often unvaccinated.

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