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Three days into the new school year: Many Covid-19 cases reported at Bonn schools

Three days into the new school year : Many Covid-19 cases reported at Bonn schools

A number of so-called “lolly tests” tests at elementary schools are positive - follow-up tests are underway, according to the city. In Tannenbusch, nearly an entire class has to be isolated. Here is what parents and families should know about the new quarantine rules.

The new school year is starting out much as the old one ended: with many cases of coronavirus in school classes. By Friday noon, there were twelve confirmed Covid-19 infections in Bonn schools, as the press office announced in response to a GA query. There were also further suspected cases in elementary schools, where the so-called “lolly tests” are used.

In this type of test, the schoolchildren put a swab in their mouth for 30 seconds. Pool swabs are collected in one joint collection tube and analyzed in a laboratory using the PCR method. If the result is positive, the children are tested individually. Currently, quite a few elementary school classes in Bonn seem to be affected. "Numerous positive pool tests are still being processed," said deputy city spokesman Marc Hoffmann on the third day of school. Outbreaks with more than three infected children and adolescents have not occurred so far - "as far as known at this time" - in any school. The city administration reported five confirmed cases this week from daycare centers. Twelve daycare groups had to be quarantined.

This also includes almost all the children in a class at the Carl Schurz Primary School in Tannenbusch. Actually, according to the new NRW Corona Protection Ordinance, only those children sitting left, right, in front of and behind the infected students should be isolated. As well, "contact persons determined individually from sport instruction" would also be affected, as Hoffmann explained. But things went differently in Tannenbusch, as the mother of an affected student reported. "The lolly test that the class took on Wednesday was positive," said Tanja Schulz (44). On Thursday morning, she had to take her seven-year-old son home immediately after he had been tested again at school. On Friday, she said, a negative result came from the PCR lab. "To my knowledge, only one child in the class is positive," the mother said. "Nevertheless, the school told us that the health department had ordered quarantine for all but one recovered child. Yet there are fixed seating charts for contact tracing."

Health department wants to maintain complete contact tracing

However, the schoolchildren all had contact with each other "at lunch and in OGS (all-day school) care," explained city spokeswoman Barbara Löcherbach on Friday evening. As well, masks had not been worn throughout. That’s why the health department, which is still trying to trace all infected contacts, initiated the quarantine on this scale.

Many parents are likely to have a childcare problem as a result. Tanja Schulze, who works for an outpatient care service, says that her older brother will be able to look after her son during the day for the next two weeks. She knows from other working parents that it will be difficult for them now. But what particularly upsets the mother: "The class now has to be quarantined for the fourth time since the pandemic broke out." At the Carl Schurz School, classes are taught in inter-year groups. So her son's teacher now has to teach classes not only for the recovered child, but also for three new first-graders who didn't start school until Thursday so do not have to quarantine. The teacher will probably compile learning materials for the schoolchildren at home over the weekend for parents to pick up, she said. "We don't know if online lessons will take place," Tanja Schulz said.

Shortening the length of quarantine is no longer possible

During previous surges of Covid-19, it was possible to end quarantine with a negative test before the 14 days were over. But this is no longer allowed because of the more contagious virus mutants. On the last day, a negative rapid test, or a PCR test in severe cases, is required to end isolation. In confirmed cases of infection, all persons living in the same household must also be quarantined - but this does not apply to those who have been fully vaccinated or recovered. They are generally exempt from quarantine unless they have Covid-19 symptoms.

The health department will determine whether close contacts outside of one's household must be quarantined, depending on the intensity of the encounter. For example, if masks were not worn or contact occurred in a poorly ventilated room for an extended period of time, a quarantine order is likely.

"Individuals who test positive are required to immediately notify anyone with whom there has been close contact in the four days prior to the test being performed or since the test was performed," Hoffmann explained. He said the health department provides quarantine instructions to those infected, which should also be forwarded to contacts. Apart from that, anyone who shows symptoms of the disease or has a positive rapid test must go into quarantine - until a negative PCR test is presented. Full details can be found in the state's Corona Test and Quarantine Ordinance, updated Aug. 19 (Clause 15 and Clause 16). In Bonn, 1,196 people were in quarantine on Friday, according to the city administration. The incidence value dropped to 112.2. 14 people with Covid-19 were in intensive care units in the hospitals, nine of them on ventilators.

Orig. text: Andreas Baumann

Translation: Carol Kloeppel