Dhe culture ministers, who are deliberating in Potsdam until this Friday, are unlikely to make a binding recommendation on wearing masks in class. Rather, it will remain that the countries proceed differently. Hessen announced on Thursday that it would start again with so-called prevention weeks after the autumn break. Students must then wear a medical mask in their place. All non-vaccinated students are required to submit a negative test certificate three times a week instead of only twice. Outside of the school tests, people under the age of 18 can continue to be tested free of charge in the Covid centers until the end of the year.
Meanwhile, a study by the American health authority CDC shows, after a comparison between schools with and without a mask requirement, that in those without a mask requirement the risk of infections was 3.5 times higher. The schools in two districts were compared with similar incidences of 105 and 161 per 100,000 inhabitants, respectively, within seven days. 59.2 percent and 47.6 percent of the residents had received at least one dose of vaccine against the coronavirus. In total, data were available from 1,020 secondary schools in both school districts.
Keep testing, keep wearing your mask
21 (two percent) schools reported outbreaks less than seven days after school started. These schools were excluded from the analysis because the infections may still have come from the holiday season. Of the 999 remaining schools, 21 percent had to wear a mask from the start of the school year. 30.9 percent introduced the mask requirement with a time lag of nine to 17 days after the start of the school year, and 48 percent did not have a mask requirement.
In the period from July 15 to August 31, there were 191 outbreaks in the schools analyzed. 16 in schools with mask compulsory from the beginning of the school year, 62 in schools with later mask compulsory and 113 in schools without mask compulsory. The number of infections that broke out in schools without a mask requirement was almost ten times higher than in schools with a mask requirement. The study argues for the continuation of the regular tests in schools and for a general mask requirement, the authors conclude.
The majority of parents in favor of lifting the mask requirement
In Bavaria and Saarland, it is no longer necessary to wear a mask in class, and students in Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia can also put masks on their seats. In Berlin and Brandenburg, the mask requirement for primary school students from grades one to six is suspended.
A majority of parents are in favor of the end of the mask requirement, while a minority thinks that it is premature. There are different views among pediatricians and the representatives of the medical association. Only the virologists are relatively unanimous in advocating continued wearing of masks in class in order to avoid infections.