Masks will no longer be mandatory in schools from April 2, 2022

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From April 4, masks will no longer be mandatory in NRW schools

Corona requirements are greatly reduced by federal law. This has also affected schools in the state of NRW. In-class mask requirements only apply for about two weeks, and the general obligation to take exams for another three weeks. Meanwhile, the number of infections is increasing.

The mask requirement in schools in North Rhine-Westphalia ends on April 2. This was announced by School Minister Yvonne Gebauer (FDP) on Friday. From April 4 – Monday – students will no longer have to wear masks in classrooms. The state uses the transitional regulations of the federal government. The minister stressed that two years into the pandemic, schools and teaching operations at NRW should be possible again as soon as possible without major restrictions. Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus infections continued to rise on Friday.

The Bundestag had earlier passed the controversial new Infection Protection Law on Friday, which stipulates that most of the country’s coronavirus requirements will expire on Sunday. However, it allows countries to temporarily hold most precautionary measures for an additional two weeks until April 2. According to Gebauer, a mouth and nose guard can be worn voluntarily from April 4. This is then an “individual decision”.

Prime Minister NRW Hendrik Wüst (CDU) spoke Thursday in favor of maintaining mask requirements in schools until the Easter holiday — until April 8 as the last day of school before the holidays. However, that won’t be easy to implement, because the new federal law will allow federal states to impose more restrictions on regional “hotspots” after April 2.

However, this is only possible if the state parliament defines the “concrete risk of a dynamically spreading infection situation” in “specifically in the name of the regional authority”. This can be a municipality, a district, or – according to the federal health department – even an entire federal state. Hence it should also be possible to wear masks in schools. Wüst described the law as “practically impractical” and above all criticized the “hot spots” rule.

Regular coronavirus tests for nearly 2.5 million NRW students will soon end: they will remain unchanged in schools “in accordance with federal regulations” until the start of the Easter holiday, that is, until April 8. But after the Easter holiday, random testing will not resume, Gabauer announced in an email to schools. Provided there is no unexpected critical development of the infection process by then. Classes will start again on April 25th.

At NRW, mask requirements were reintroduced for schoolchildren in their seats on December 2, 2021 in the fourth wave of corona. Since the change at the end of February, elementary school students have been checking themselves three times a week at home using a corona self-test. In high schools, three self-tests per week are taken at the school’s testing site. Since February 28, schoolchildren and school staff in North Rhine-Westphalia have been asked to only get tested if they have not been vaccinated or have recovered.

The Education Ministers Conference (KMK) also decided a week ago to lift Corona restrictions in schools with masks and compulsory tests by May at the latest. Gibor explained that this will also be implemented in the state of NRW. “Given the sometimes dramatic impacts on children and youth over the past two years, they should not be left behind in the upcoming mitigation.” Friday, according to the Robert Koch Institute, .5 new infections per 100,000 residents.

In the lead-up to this, many cautioned against caution and, given the rapid increase in infections, cautioned against a rush to mitigate. The SPD’s parliamentary group has now appealed to all those involved in school life to continue wearing masks voluntarily “as far as possible and necessary”. This is especially true where there are no air filters, classrooms are cramped and the vaccination rate is low, said school expert Jochen Ott.

The Association of Linguists has expressed concern regarding important exams that are due to take place after the Easter holiday. There are many final theses and high school diplomas pending. Sabine Misler, the leader of the state assembly, has warned that mask and testing requirements are being scrapped.

(up/dpa)

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