Starting Wednesday, Berlin's students will return to full face-to-face classes. This was the Berlin Senate's reaction last week to a ruling by the Berlin Administrative Court that the continuation of alternating instruction in half classes could no longer be justified. The incidences had dropped too much in recent weeks. In a letter to the schools, however, the education administration asked that the last two weeks of school before the start of summer vacation be primarily "arrival weeks."
"In addition to subject lessons, students should have the opportunity to meet as a whole learning group, (re)establish contacts, talk about what they have experienced and engage in joint activities. Also take the opportunity to make outdoor learning opportunities," reads the letter, which was obtained by the Daily Mirror.
Importantly, the attendance requirement remains suspended. Parents who do not want to send their children to school because of the risk of infection are therefore not forced to do so.Meanwhile, preparations for the start of school have long been underway at the elementary school in Köllnische Heide. Astrid-Sabine Busse, principal and chairwoman of the Berlin Association of School Principals, told the Tagesspiegel: "Our concerns are still there, of course. Many teachers have not yet been vaccinated. The incidence among children remains high. But of course we are prepared."
Parent, teacher, student and principal associations had still warned against returning to face-to-face classes until the administrative court's decision - the risk of infection was too high, they said. School principals estimate that about half of the teachers at many secondary schools have not yet been vaccinated.Still, Busse is confident: "The kids are so practiced with testing by now, they can do it in the dark. We can't catch up on learning now, the grades are fixed, but we'll have classroom outings outside of school and field trips, too."
The education administration's letter emphasizes that all hygiene rules remain in effect despite the low incidences: Only outdoors is the mask requirement waived. "Students who wear masks for several hours a day should have the opportunity to breathe deeply in the recess yard," it says. Rules for physical education, study groups and music classes have also been relaxed - especially outdoors.Also likely to be particularly relevant for graduating classes are the relaxations on report card awards: In principle, outdoor events of up to 500 people are allowed again, and indoors up to 100. Many schools are nevertheless more cautious.Busse said, "Most kids get their report cards in class. We're splitting up the event for our sixth graders' graduation reports this year. Each school will see how they do events that comply with the rules." The summer and good weather, however, would suit school administrators just fine.
Incidences in school-age groups have now dropped significantly, although they are still higher than in all other cohorts. The highest incidence is among five- to nine-year-olds, at 57.3.Two weeks after the elementary schools, secondary schools in Brandenburg also started full attendance classes again on Monday. In the coming two and a half weeks before the summer vacations, social cohesion is to be the focus here as well as learning, Education Minister Britta Ernst (SPD) had explained. Therefore, one-day trips and excursions are allowed.
Photo by Kelly Sikkema