Protest action with white flags: Herner elementary schools, like here the Kolibrischule at the Jean-Vogel-Strabe, hang on Wednesday (2.2.2022) white flags from the windows. Photo: Carola Quickels
Elementary schools in Herne participated on Wednesday (2.2.2022) in a nationwide protest to draw attention to the increasing congestion caused by the Corona pandemic and Corona numbers. As a sign that they are at their limit and almost on the verge of "surrender," they hung white flags from the windows.
This is to show a visible sign of their heavy workload to the outside world and that they are tired of the back and forth in testing chaos. The first time the action had taken place weeks ago at a school in Cologne. Elementary and special schools in other cities have since also made their displeasure known in this way.
Elementary school at Eickeler Park. Photo: Carola Quickels
Change in the testing procedure
The testing chaos at (elementary) schools is growing and reaching proportions that teachers can no longer handle (halloherne reported and reported). A new instruction in the form of a school email arrived late Tuesday evening (25.1.2022) the elementary schools. In it the change of the past test procedure was ordered – naturally immediately. Previously, two samples were taken from the children on the day of the test – one for the pool test (here, test sticks from a pool are evaluated together) and one as a reserve sample – now the word is: From now on, the test rhythm will remain, but no more reserve samples will be taken.
No more reserve samples
Claudius School on Hedwigstrasse. Photo: Carola Quickels
This means in everyday life: the sensitive PCR pool tests continue to take place two days a week. In the case of a positive pool result, however, "retesting" is only carried out with rapid tests in NRW. It is not possible to see which child is positive on the basis of a reserve sample in the laboratory. The consequence is that infected students come to school because they are often only tested again there. You can imagine how many children will then be infected.
The next morning, all children come to school, sit together in one room and are (re)tested there. If the rapid antigen test, which is to be used for this purpose and is by far not as sensitive as the PCR test, does not show a positive result, the children continue to learn together in one class that day. No one knows which child is positive. This means that it is willingly accepted that the virus can spread blithely.
Sun school in Holsterhausen. Photo: Carola Quickels
This happens not only among the children. If a rapid test is positive in elementary schools, the "positive" child must be quarantined at home. However, it is often the case with elementary school children that they are brought to school and also picked up again by their parents. If the parents of the child in question are at work and cannot come to school immediately, the child must be cared for separately until it is picked up. If one knows how narrowly the personnel cover is in the schools, then it is already clear that this concept can carry no longer for a long time.
Call of the GEW
A statement from the Education and Science Union (GEW) says: "It is enough for colleagues at elementary and special schools, as health managers, to regulate and take responsibility for the testing chaos at the schools; the laboratories are largely capitulating, the uncertainty is great."Frustrated by the lack of a plan and the lack of a concept of the Ministry of Education, a protest took place on Wednesday (2).2.2022) also Herner elementary school in the protest action.
Pantringshof Elementary School. Photo: Carola Quickels
‘No surrender, but at the limit’
For example, also the Kunterbunt elementary school on Neustrabe. Principal Monika Mueller is it however in the discussion with halloherne important to make one thing clear: "We do not capitulate, because that would be fatal for our children, but we want to make attentive on our situation. We do not want to and cannot accept this testing chaos any longer. For us, it is incomprehensible that we have been doing this balancing act for two years now."
When asked what she would like to see from the Minister of Education for the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Yvonne Gebauer (FDP), Monika Muller says: "It would be desirable if she would ask around in the schools and not send her orders by e-mail the night before they are to be implemented. Not only once we have learned about changes only through the media."
Joseph school at the Stockstrabe. Photo: Carola Quickels
Setting an example
Another school, among many others on Herne’s territory, is the Kolibrischule (Hummingbird School) on Jean-Vogel-Strasse. Here, too – together with the other schools – we want to set a visible sign that the schools are running at the limit. Principal Stefanie Lakomy tells halloherne about some factors that should be known to everyone by now: "Rapid tests and pool tests in the morning, staff shortages and the high flexibility that has been demanded of everyone involved since the beginning of the pandemic are sapping our energy." The administrative effort around the respective tests is simply enormous and binds besides the time also personnel.
"Whereby in no case the situation of the parents should be neglected", Lakomy further emphasizes. "Parents of elementary school children have to be anxious every day to see whether their child is negative and whether he or she can go to school."
The Claudius School on Hedwigstrasse. Photo: Carola Quickels