Did the Bundestag not know what it was voting for? School closures (for example) should now be called ‘Christmas holidays’.

Berlin. Did the Traffic Light Coalition not understand what they decided for schools when they allowed the end of the pandemic emergency and put a new infection protection law into effect? An interview with the General Secretary of the Free Democratic Party, who is himself a lawyer by profession, suggests this impression. Law professor Franz C. Mayer of Bielefeld University is terrified on Twitter. In the meantime, the horrific consequences of the Bundestag’s decision can already be seen: the closure of schools (for example) should be called the “Christmas holiday”.

Without a plant in an epidemic? New elected chancellor Olaf Schulz (Social Democratic Party) during the first session of the Bundestag after the elections in October. Photo: Jürgen Novak/Shutterstock

Deutschlandfunk, Information in the morning, November 26, 6:48 a.m.

Mediator: Brandenburg has already announced the closure of schools – and the Christmas holidays will be introduced. Is this allowed under your infection protection law?

Volker Wesing: It’s a rustic thing. Education policy is not the responsibility of the federal states.

Mediator: But school closures are a reality.

Yesing: Countries have to decide that. Again, the federal government is not responsible for education policy but for infection control and here federal law dictates what is required from a federal perspective.

Mediator: I now understand that according to the Infection Protection Act, it is no longer possible to close schools nationwide. Did I misunderstand that?

Yesing: The truth is that according to our Constitution the responsibility for education policy lies with the federal states and the federal government cannot decide when schools will be opened and when schools will be closed. It’s true what you say.

Mediator: So in theory, every prime minister could still say, if he wanted, ‘OK, I’ll close the schools.

Yesing: Countries have far-reaching potential, yes.

Volker Wessing is not just anyone. Former Minister of Economy and Deputy Prime Minister of Rhineland-Palatinate, by profession: lawyer, is one of the architects of the Traffic Light Alliance as General Secretary of the Free Democratic Party (and will be part of the government as Federal Minister of Transport). However, he seems to have no idea what he and his fellow FDP, Green and SPD parliamentary groups decided last week when it came to the end of the pandemic emergency and a new anti-contagion law.

“Bitter – bitter. Didn’t understand it himself,” law professor Meyer said on Twitter. “Again, in effect since yesterday (November 26, editor).The traffic light has expressly prohibited countries from closing schools for reasons of infection prevention. If the federal states find any other reason…but then someone will sue…legal certainty…”He also publishes an excerpt from the new Infection Protection Act, under which (Section 28a)” the following safeguards are excluded: (…) Closure of community facilities within the meaning of Article 33.”

Article 33 then states: “Community facilities within the meaning of this law are establishments in which minors are often cared for, including in particular 1. day care centers and after-school centres, 2. nursery school, 3. schools and other training facilities, 4. homes and 5. holiday camp.”

The current situation in Saxony shows the absurd consequences of the new legal situation. Because of the explosive infection rate, the Department of Education closed a quarter of schools in the country this week — by individual order, school by school. The coronavirus outbreak has always had to be detected in a big way beforehand. When asked if public school closures will be announced soon, Education Minister Christian Bewers (CDU) clarified: The current legal situation does not allow for a complete closure.

The federal government has given states a transition period until December 15, but the measures were supposed to go into effect by November 25 at the latest. The Traffic Lights Alliance linked the end of the epidemic situation of national importance to this date. Now it can no longer be tightened again, Bewers said. Saxony has already done so with the current emergency regulation.

One wants to keep schools and daycare centers open for face-to-face operations. However, you should check every week if you can continue on this path. It was left open as to whether Saxony would prefer the Christmas holidays due to the pandemic. Bewers: “In this difficult situation, nothing should be left out.” Looking at the past year, he’s still skeptical. The impact at that time was very limited.

“If the contagion emergency requires it, there will of course also be school closures. It will be called differently”

Already last week Mayer stated – with the aim of the parliamentary debate: “Currently there is disagreement on these points in the Bundestag. Apparently, it is not even clear what the law says. Members of the legislature. Cheers meal. I hear over and over again: many do not understand what is happening.” Again, starting next Thursday (November 26, editor). Impossible: total or partial closure, complete or partial closure of shops, schools and day care centers, ban on tourists. Travel, stay overnight, go to the pub. Is there really any country in the world that was the first to determine what not to do against the epidemic? Even in international comparison, we make ourselves very silly.”

Moreover: “Unfortunately, I still do not understand: why exactly has the epidemic situation of national importance not expanded?” If the answer is “because that’s what one party wants,” then something is going very wrong. Because that’s not the answer when it comes to life or death. And: “What a legislative error.” In addition, the assessment: “If the contagion emergency requires it, there will of course also be closures, curfews, and closures of schools.” It’s called differently or justified differently = less legal certainty.”

Then school closures are called, for example: Christmas holidays.

The head of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group in the Bundestag, Ralph Brinkhaus, has already absorbed the new language. In “Welt am Sonntag” he explains today: “If the situation worsens, I think we should also consider starting the Christmas holidays one to two weeks earlier everywhere to reduce contacts, for example in schools.” News4teachers

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