Corona rules in NRW Mandatory use of masks at Bonn schools causes a stir

Bonn · The new decree of the ministry polarises parents and students. Educationalists are thinking up concepts - and looking forward to the hot days ahead with concern.

 Teaching while wearing a mask: Pupils of the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt grammar school have already experienced this during the crisis.

Teaching while wearing a mask: Pupils of the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt grammar school have already experienced this during the crisis.

Foto: Benjamin Westhoff

The duty for all pupils to wear a face mask in schools - at secondary schools also during lessons - with a deadline of 31 August, is also causing a lively discussion among Bonn residents on the net. The GA also received many e-mails from parents and pupils with very different opinions on mandatory masks as protection against corona infection.

"With the heat wave that is currently continuing, I find it an unacceptable story," writes Sarah (22), who is attending a vocational college in Bonn. Especially as she is taught in container classes. "This is an ordeal. This is in no way concentrated learning." Facebook user Sabine Mingers writes, "By the way, my daughters don't care, they stick to it and don't complain. On the contrary: It's necessary, so we wear the mask. And their friends do the same.“ On Facebook, Jennifer Wilms reminds us that it is safer for the students who belong to the risk group and that parents can send their children to school with greater peace of mind. "It's all about protecting everyone."

Finally, a clear policy

Meanwhile, the telephone wires are running hot in the schools: together, many headmasters in Bonn are considering how they can implement the decree issued by the Ministry of Education on Monday. Some of the principals interviewed by the GA were initially relieved that the state of NRW had now "finally issued a regulation for all schools for the start of school next Wednesday at an early stage and in all clarity", according to the tenor. They do indeed see it as problematic when children and young people at secondary schools have to wear a mask for hours in the classroom. But if this measure makes it possible to ensure a reasonably normal school day with all pupils on site, then this is the priority.

"For me, the school is in the forefront," emphasises Manfred Theis. The director of the Clara-Schumann-Gymnaisum is looking forward to an "exciting time" until the end of August, after all, the meteorologists have predicted hot days. And they will fall at the beginning of school next week, of all days. Theis knows that the classrooms will heat up, especially since many school buildings lack shading facilities. "There might be still days when it’s so hot they children will be allowed to go or stay home so then it really isn't a problem anymore", he says pragmatically.

His colleague from the Tannenbusch Gymnasium, Eike Schultz, says: "The most important thing is health, that's clear”. He also sees the great challenge that his students have to face if they are not allowed to take off their mouth and nose protectors in class. "Many of them come by bus and train, where they also have to wear masks. That's a long day." Especially since the heat does the rest. "We'll see how we react." Christa Hahn runs the Ludwig Richter Elementary School in Duisdorf and is happy that the elementary school pupils are allowed to take off their masks in class. Meanwhile, the pedagogue has observed that children in particular are very disciplined when it comes to observing the hygiene rules to protect against corona. "This cannot necessarily be said of all adults."

Parents in Bonn see problems with the implementation

Rolf Haßelkus of the Bonn board of the Union for Education and Science (GEW) is divided: "I know it is a difficult situation for the state government as well, but the whole thing shows a certain helplessness”. He already sees problems in the practical implementation, but at the moment there is probably no other option for the schools than to implement the instruction. He finds it difficult to criticise now, Hasselkus said, but he sees that the schools "are again being given a lot of responsibility for solving the problems“.

Since some parents are expressing concerns on Facebook that constantly wearing masks could have a negative effect on children's health, the GA interviewed Axel Gerschlauer, the chairman of the pediatricians and youth physicians in Bonn and the Rhein-Sieg district on the left bank of the Rhine. He only knew "that this is incredibly exhausting and annoying", Gerschlauer replied. He does not see that wearing a mask could be dangerous, but there are no studies available to his knowledge. "We should all admit that with the virus we must continue to act and test only on sight." The physician advises serenely. „It may work better than anyone fears at this point."

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