Two schools demonstrate how to reopen

style="float: right; margin-bottom: 10px; font-weight: 600;"Wed 3rd Mar, 2021

Gert Mengel is one of the principals Corona has roused. Who wants to stand still. "I would be happy if we could learn a little faster," says the head of the Don Bosco School in Rostock.

He is referring to the Corona tests for schools, which can be taken by students themselves. Testing has already been underway at Mengels and a school in Neustrelitz since July 2020. 5000 tests have been taken by students at the free Catholic school in Rostock alone. The message is: testing is feasible - and it can be done much faster on site.

While the nation is still brooding, and Jens Spahn is coming under pressure because of the endless slowness of his Corona policy, the students in Rostock and Neustrelitz can now do it as if in their sleep. "A whole eight tests out of the 5,000 were not evaluable," says Gert Mengel, praising his students, who take the throat swabs themselves. Sometimes parents also help at home. Only four times did the tests indicate an infection.

The procedure is in line with Rostock. The mayor there, Claus Ruhe Madsen, has kept the incidence in Rostock low through determination and testing. He now tours the talk shows with his Luca app to show Germany how to control the virus. Principal Mengel is just in time: If Madsen wants to be a role model with Rostock, the Don Bosco principal wants to be one with the school.

"We could safely open the schools again," Mengel says in an interview with Der Tagesspiegel. "Even sports and music and regular church services would be possible again. And we can put an end to the alternating classes that overwhelm everyone."

Yet Mengel is no opponent of digital learning. What worries him are the students who become lonely despite it. "Our students give us good feedback for digital learning - and yet they say they feel lonely at home in front of the screen."

The Association of Adolescent Physicians now warned "of the negative psychological effects of repetitive testing." These could arise especially in young children. The head of the Catholic school rejects this based on his experienced practice.

"On the contrary, the Corona tests raise students' awareness - and sensitize them to the rules," Mengel says. Most importantly, the pandemic also becomes manageable for students. "Anyone who can do the most complicated chemical experiments can also manage a simple throat swab," he says. "Let's give our kids some credit."

Students take the tests home, collect the saliva samples, submit them - and are notified via app 12 hours after swabbing whether they are positive. "If someone was infected, we knew quickly and could target and isolate the student and their environment - rather than the whole school."

Corona testing is already available in several cities and states. Saxony has been offering its students to screen them for Corona infection since the beginning of the year. However, relatively few students participate. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, on the other hand, wants to test elementary school students in the future. However, these would be rapid tests - and the ABC school children would not be able to do them on their own.

The story of the Mecklenburg PCR tests is a typical German Corona tale. The Gymnasium Carolinum in Neustrelitz had already made it into the New York Times in May with the tests from Centogene. After that, inquiries came in from all over the world about how to make school safer through self-testing.

Then, however, the Corona policy of the ministers of education sank into a deep sleep. Perhaps things will go faster this time, now that the third wave of the mutant B117, which is more dangerous for children, is approaching. Principal Mengel has hopes there. During an online discussion over the weekend, he asked Federal Education Minister Anja Karliczek (CDU) if she would be interested in his proven test model. Karliczek asked to learn about Rostock's experience.

Image by Alexandra Koch from Pixabay


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