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Criticism also from Bonn: Growing resistance against schools re-opening in NRW

Criticism also from Bonn : Growing resistance against schools re-opening in NRW

School is supposed to start up again this week for some students. Representatives of the education union “Bildungsgewerkschaft” and students want to take action against the re-openings through petitioning. Clarification is still needed on issues such as grading.

There is growing opposition to starting school again this week. Both students and teachers are increasingly critical of the announcement by NRW Education Minister Yvonne Gebauer. The schools are set to open for “Abiturienten” (those sitting university entrance exams) starting this Thursday but attendance is voluntary. For the final year classes (Mittlere Reife) at Gesamtschule, Realschule and Hauptschule, however, attendance is obligatory. Several petitions have been filed to prevent the start of school.

One example, the petition "NRW's Abiturienten stay at home" states that those graduating from high school should send a clear signal to Prime Minister Armin Laschet and Minister Gebauer. The lives of students shouldn’t be fooled with. The petition wants to enable students to receive their “Abitur” final grade based on their performance to date.Students at the vocational college in Duisdorf are also sending e-mails to Education Minister Gebauer. "I know that you are only trying to give us the 'best Abitur'. Nevertheless, I am of the opinion that this is not possible by putting our health at risk," writes one student in an e-mail, the contents made available to GA.

The students receive support from the Association of Philologists NRW, an association of teachers that prepare for the “Abitur”. It supports the decision of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has spoken out in favor of starting lessons on May 4 at the earliest. The recommendations for action by the Ministry of Science and Education, which went to the schools last week, were "clearly too little", he said. "Schools need concrete guidelines and solutions within the framework of their obligation to provide for the welfare (of the students)“, the association demands.

The Education and Science Union (GEW) has also launched a petition. The GEW is appalled that the state government's decision to open schools this week is negligently endangering the health of teachers, pupils and families, criticizes Rolf Haßelkus, chairman of the GEW in Bonn. Naturally, one would like to teach the students again. ”We are in line with the Chancellor. Let's take it slowly and not ruin everything we have built up," Haßelkus appealed to the state politicians. He said that in this exceptional situation, it is not possible to start school in a rush.

Meanwhile, the schools are preparing to open again. A message will be sent to parents saying that students are advised to wear a mask when using public transport, says Margarete Ruhnke, head of the Bertolt-Brecht Gesamtschule. "But we cannot assume that every pupil owns a mask." In the school, everything needs to be arranged in such a way that the rules of distance can be observed. "Classes need to be limited to about eight people per class," says Ruhnke. One staircase is to be used for access and another for exiting.

The school had been cleaned intensively during the holiday period. "This will be a huge challenge," Ruhnke continued. "We have to organize a lot in a short time." And there is still a lot that has not been clarified. “There are currently a few things that are not yet fully established," says Ruhnke, who believes that the school as a whole is well prepared.

(Orig. text: Thomas Leurs, Translation: Carol Kloeppel)