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After coronavirus closures: School to restart for 3,000 young people in Bonn

After coronavirus closures : School to restart for 3,000 young people in Bonn

Starting from next Thursday, classes for graduating students in Bonn will again be taught on-site. The city is currently checking whether sufficient soap dispensers and paper towels are available in the schools' sanitary facilities.

Next Thursday, secondary schools are to be reopened for classes for students who will graduate. According to information provided by Bonn's mayor Ashok Sridharan yesterday, 35 secondary schools will resume teaching, and about 3,000 pupils from graduating classes will then be able to enjoy lessons after a corona-related break of several weeks. However, according to NRW Education Minister Yvonne Gebauer, participation is voluntary. The fourth-graders of primary schools are to follow from 4 May.

As Sridharan announced in a press conference, the city is in talks with the public Bus und Bahn company (SWB) about how the transport timetable can accommodate this situation. In the week following the school closures, the SWB had reduced its services during the week to a Saturday timetable. SWB spokeswoman Veronika John said that a decision would be made in the coming days whether the SWB would return to the normal timetable or use school buses.

The Municipal Building Management (SGB) is currently checking whether sufficient soap dispensers and paper towels are available in the schools' sanitary facilities, so that pupils can comply with the Robert Koch Institute's hygiene regulations. The head of the SGB, Lutz Leide, said: “In some places we have to carry out some work, for example, to repair some defective wash basins.”

According to the city, disinfectant is not necessary

After consultation with experts - Sridharan mentioned the hygiene expert Martin Exner from Bonn University Hospital by name - it was not necessary to equip the schools with disinfectants. Also, the frequency of cleaning by service companies should not be increased. “The schools have also been continuously cleaned during the past weeks”, he said. When asked whether pupils and teachers should wear face masks, he said that although there was no obligation to do so, and the Chancellor had also stated this on Wednesday, wearing a mask was nevertheless recommended.

Concern among the pupils

Some students have grave concerns about the reopenings. They are unsure whether, and above all how, the hygiene regulations can be observed and they are afraid of potentially infecting others. “We couldn’t believe that it was decided this way now”, Maria Humeniuc told the GA. She is a high-school graduate of the Bertolt-Brecht comprehensive school. She intends in the meantime to continue to learn from home.

She doubts whether the conditions of hygienic will enable her to attend school without the risk of infection. “We are a public school”, she says, “There is no more paper or soap in the toilets after 10 a.m.” And even if they were provided, the 20-year-old doubts that they would last for more than two hours. Another point is how to get to school. “The majority has to come by public transport. And there are many students who are in the risk group - what about them?” The pupils are supported by the NRW state pupils' representative body. In a press release, it unreservedly rejects the planned premature start of lessons.

A high school graduate of the Beethoven Gymnasium who does not want to mention her name publicly, takes a similar view. “I totally panicked when we heard about the school opening”, she tells the GA. “We discussed it a lot in the Abitur-Whatsapp groups and we are very worried.” In addition, there is a high-risk individual in her family and the concern that she could infect a family member is correspondingly high. Since school attendance is voluntary, she prefers to prepare for the upcoming school-leaving exams from home.

In order for the schools to reopen by next Thursday, inspections are to be carried out by the city authorities, who will assess the conditions of hygiene. “When I heard about this last week, I immediately booked a hygiene inspection”, says Arndt Hilse, headmaster of the Karl Simrock School. However, he is still waiting for a fixed date. The disinfectant he requested, which the city ordered at the end of February, has not yet arrived. “I am curious to see how everything will go from next Thursday”.

(Original text: Thomas Leurs and Philipp Königs, translation John Chandler)