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Statement by Armin Laschet: How schools and daycare centres in NRW will gradually re-open

Statement by Armin Laschet : How schools and daycare centres in NRW will gradually re-open

Due to the Corona pandemic, schools are not supposed to reopen until May 4. But whoever is about to graduate from high school in NRW, can probably go back to school soon after the Easter holidays - as in: next week.

Schools in NRW are to gradually reopen after the Easter holidays next week - initially for pupils who are about to graduate. There will be no special way of opening the daycare centres in North Rhine-Westphalia: The facilities will not be opened for the time being, said State Premier Armin Laschet (CDU) on Wednesday after a telephone conference of the individual state leaders with Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU). According to the decisions, people in the West will probably have to do without most of the public and marksmen's festivals this summer. Instead, Laschet wants to achieve that church services can be celebrated soon again.

Specifically the opening of the schools had been fiercely fought for in the past days. It is now planned as follows: "After a preparation period for school directors, teachers and other personnel starting on April 20, 2020, the schools are to reopen a few days later for the pupils who are preparing for the final exams to be held", the NRW Ministry of Education announced. Minister Yvonne Gebauer (FDP) will inform the state parliament's school committee about details this Thursday.

The federal and state governments had previously agreed that for most classes, classes will not be available again until May 4.

As of May 12th, the Abitur exams in North Rhine-Westphalia are to begin as planned, Laschet confirmed. In addition, the central exams in grade 10 will be held soon. "It is exactly those classes that will be able to go back to class next week", said the head of government. Numerous parents' and teachers' associations as well as trade unions in North Rhine-Westphalia had recently demanded a cancellation of the Abitur exams.

Starting May 4th, pupils who have their final exams next year should then be able to go back to school. "And the final year elementary school class is also covered by this according to the common text", said Laschet. The reopening of schools in Germany in May should be planned "very carefully", Merkel had said shortly before.

North Rhine-Westphalia is not progressing faster than the other federal states in opening the daycare centers - they will not be opened for the time being. Emergency care, however, will be extended to other professional groups. Laschet said, which of these are now being analysed. NRW Family Minister Joachim Stamp (FDP) had spoken out on Tuesday in favour of a faster opening of day-care centres in the state, at least for older children.

Due to a ban on major events until at least August 31st, many Schützenfest events in NRW will not be able to take place this summer. NRW had pushed for a corresponding regulation so that the clubs would have planning security, Laschet said. In NRW, for example, the big Rhine fair of the St. Sebastianus Schützen was due to start on July 17th, in Neuss the big marksmen's festival should have begun on August 28th. The huge Cranger Kirmes in the Ruhr area had been scheduled to take place from August 6th to 16th.

Laschet, however, wants to support the fact that church services can take place again soon. This Thursday he will discuss this with representatives of various religions from NRW, the Minister President announced.

Laschet emphasised that recently, for the first time in North Rhine-Westphalia during the corona pandemic, more patients had been able to leave the intensive care units than had to be transferred there. 40 percent of the available intensive care beds were not occupied. A slightly smaller number of ventilation places had also been needed. Here, the decrease was 0.3 percent.

Original text: dpa

Translation: Mareike Graepel