Düsseldorf Lessons are over for many a week after the summer break. Teachers warn of health consequences because, according to recent studies, children could also become seriously ill.
One week after the end of the summer holidays, thousands of North Rhine-Westphalian schoolchildren and daycare children are already in quarantine again. In North Rhine-Westphalia’s largest city of Cologne alone, the health authorities sent 1,644 contact persons from daycare centers and schools into domestic isolation because they had direct contact with an infected person. 616 schoolchildren in Cologne were infected, of which 242 were actually in school during the infectious period, according to the city. A large part of the infections is therefore a result of the holidays. There were 91 cases of infection among teaching and other school staff.
A similar picture emerges in Düsseldorf: 337 of the around 70,000 schoolchildren in the city are infected, and 123 had to go into quarantine for 14 days as contact persons. Bonn reported 35 confirmed infections in 32 schools and at least 120 contact persons in quarantine.
Since the beginning of the school year, more relaxed quarantine rules have applied. Only those who have sat next to, in front of or behind an infected student or who have been in closer contact as a teacher need to isolate themselves. Only fully vaccinated students are excluded. Earlier free testing is not possible other than initially communicated.
In Essen there have been 305 infections since August 18 in children between 6 and 17 years of age. Schoolchildren accounted for almost a third of all cases. In addition, there were 567 minors in quarantine – as many as in Krefeld, although the city is only about half the size. In the even smaller Solingen there were even around 800 students in quarantine.
The situation is also being closely monitored in the Aachen city region. There were 136 cases of infection among a total of 73,000 students. Another 103 are in domestic isolation. Corinna Bank, hygiene expert at the health department, attributed the infection cases in schools mainly to the fact that more tests are carried out here: “We search for children with a lice comb, for the rest of the population with a garden rake.” Day incidence among five- to nine-year-olds in the Aachen city region was 380 and among 10- to 14-year-olds even 403. For comparison: in the population as a whole, this number was only 110.
The state government also cites increased testing and return trips as reasons for the increasing numbers. Nevertheless, the consequences for children should not be underestimated, warned the President of the German Teachers’ Association, Heinz-Peter Meidinger. “Even if children rarely become seriously ill, we must not allow schools to be contaminated,” he told the “Augsburger Allgemeine”. Recent studies have found that between 0.3 to 1.7 percent of infected children have to be treated in hospital. “In relation to Germany with almost eleven million students, this would mean that between 30,000 and 180,000 would have to be treated in hospitals, completely apart from any possible long-covid consequences. I don’t think any politician should be responsible for that. “
NRW Family Minister Joachim Stamp (FDP) wants to keep schools and daycare centers open despite the increasing number of infections. “We have to weigh up here,” said the Deputy Prime Minister. According to paediatricians, the corona restrictions have led to significant problems ranging from obesity and anxiety psychosis to contact disorders in children.
Overall, there is a slight urban-rural gradient. As a bullet-point survey by our local editorial team showed, the situation in smaller cities such as Emmerich, Kaarst or Mettmann is more relaxed relative to the number of students.