Halle (dpa) – The National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina recommends, under certain conditions, to open primary schools and lower secondary education gradually as soon as possible.
The scientists’ statement published on Monday, which deals with further steps in the corona pandemic, states, among other things, on the prerequisites that the infections must be stabilized at a low level and the known hygiene rules must be observed. In addition, the experts are in favor of a mask requirement, for example on buses and trains.
Chancellor Angela Merkel described the Leopoldina’s study as “very important” for the way forward. Secondary level 1 includes secondary schools, junior high schools, comprehensive schools up to class 10 and high schools up to and including classes 9 and 10.
In the statement “Overcoming the crisis sustainably”, the experts say that many other parts of public life can gradually be normalized again under certain conditions. First, retail, hospitality and government agencies could open up. But private and business trips as well as social, cultural and sporting events could also take place again.
To do this, however, “necessary clinical reserve capacities would first have to be built up” and other patients would also have to be admitted regularly. A prerequisite is that hygiene rules are adhered to in a disciplined manner. And even if the normalization of social life is now being discussed, the experts make it clear that “the pandemic will continue to determine economic and social life for months to come”.
The opening of schools and daycare centers continues: “Since smaller children cannot adhere to the distance rules and protective measures, but at the same time can pass on the infection, the operation in daycare centers should only be restarted to a very limited extent.” In daycare centers, there should be a maximum of five children in one room. Because older students could make better use of distance learning, it is recommended that they should only return to their usual lessons later.
In the field of education, the scientists are also making further specific suggestions as to how lessons can take place in the future. First of all, the focus should be on German, math and foreign languages. In addition, constant learning groups should be formed to reduce the risk of infection. A number of 15 pupils is named as the group size, provided there are large classrooms.
“Clear, verifiable regulations are required both for the hygiene standards in the classrooms and for the corridors and the toilets,” said Udo Beckmann, Federal President of the Education Union.
In the Leopoldina’s recommendations, under the point “Using economic and financial policy for stabilization”, state participations should only be used to stabilize companies in extreme emergencies. With the expiry of current health policy measures, further expansionary fiscal policy impulses would be necessary in the medium term. On the revenue side, this could be tax relief, bringing forward partial relief in the solidarity surcharge or completely abolishing it. On the expenditure side, additional funds for public investments, for example in health care, digital infrastructure and climate protection, are important.
The experts also call for adherence to the market economy. So the debt brake should be held within the framework of its currently applicable rules. This allows a significantly higher level of debt, especially in times as special as the Corona crisis, but demands that it be returned when normality returns.
Isolation of individual population groups to protect them is explicitly rejected. This is a “paternalistic paternalism”. Nevertheless, consideration must be given. “The effect of illness on stressful events largely depends on whether an individual experiences them as predictable and controllable or not,” says the psychological and social consequences of the pandemic.
In addition, the National Academy of Sciences also deals with technical aspects. The decision-making basis for measures can be optimized, for example, through voluntarily provided GPS data. This is also helpful because the pandemic differs from region to region and ideally a spatially limited real-time monitoring is useful.
The statement also looks at the political dimensions of the pandemic and the measures that have been adopted so far. «Restrictions on fundamental rights do not only have to pursue a legitimate goal