Why do so many students hesitate

Mandatory corona tests for classroom teaching - this is how students in Berlin and Brandenburg should test themselves

In Berlin, all students present should take a nasal swab twice a week from Monday under the guidance of teachers and educators. Brandenburg will then also introduce compulsory testing, but people will poke their noses at home.

As of Monday (April 19), students in Berlin and Brandenburg are required to take tests. These are then compulsorily tested twice a week at the school itself (Berlin) or at home (Brandenburg).

Only a negative test result enables participation in classroom-based offers and care offers (emergency care for grades 1-6). The Senate Education Administration has detailed how the on-site tests should run in Berlin [berlin.de].

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Why are the students being tested?

The education ministers in Germany rely on nationwide tests to prevent school closings for as long as possible. Berlin's Senator for Education Sandra Scheres (SPD): "We all want to avoid that students lose touch or suffer psychologically as a result of absenteeism from school." Infected children and adolescents should be identified as early as possible through the tests, so the schools could stay open longer.

For this, from 19.4. In both Berlin and Brandenburg, students are required to carry out two self-tests per week on their own. In Berlin these tests take place directly in the school, students from Brandenburg can carry them out at home. The on-site testing in Berlin aims to ensure that as many students as possible use the tests and that the school staff can check the test results.

It remains to be seen whether schools will be much safer with tests. A study from Austria showed that such rapid tests only recognize about a fifth to a quarter of infected children and adolescents [University of Vienna].

What happens before the test?

According to the Berlin Senate Administration, the school is responsible for testing the pupils no Declaration of consent from parents or legal guardians or adult pupils required. The reason for this is that the compulsory attendance in the schools is still lifted and the students could alternatively stay in distance lessons. In addition, according to the Senate, the students carry out the tests in the schools themselves - there is no physical contact with teachers or other school staff during the test.

Before the first use of a self-test, the pupils are informed by the educational staff about the necessity and the procedure by the educational staff of their schools. There are handouts and explanatory videos online and accessible to everyone [berlin.de].

Where is testing carried out on site?

The self-test can take place in the classroom or, depending on the local conditions, in other rooms - and always in compliance with the known hygiene rules (AHA + L). It is not necessary to wear additional protective clothing in addition to masks if the otherwise applicable hygiene rules are observed.

The room must be well ventilated and distance control must be guaranteed. Outdoor tests are possible if the weather permits. However, accumulations in front of buildings or rooms should be avoided.

How does such a self-test work?

As a rule, a test stick is taken out of the sealed packaging and the smear is taken in the nose with the small brush attached there. In the Roche test, for example, which is used in many schools, the test stick is then dipped into a rather delicate little container with liquid, the seal of which has to be removed beforehand. There the brush is squeezed and wrung out. The test stick is then put away. The container with the liquid gets a cap with a small pouring opening. About four drops of the solution created by immersing the test stick are dropped through this onto a point of a test container made of plastic with a viewing window.

If enough biological material has been removed, a control line should quickly appear in the window. If one line remains after 15 to 30 minutes, the user is not infected with the coronavirus, according to this test. If a second line appears during the above-mentioned time, there is a suspicion of a Covid-19 infection. Then a PCR test leads to the final clarification. This applies to both the students in Berlin who are on site and to Brandenburg students who test themselves at home.

How does the test situation in school look like in concrete terms?

The pupils should take off their mask for 15 seconds per nostril for the actual smear in the front nasal area - guided by the educational staff of their school in accordance with their age. Then put the mask back on immediately and carry out the remaining part of the test procedure.

According to the Senate, the risk of infection in the room increases only minimally. Nevertheless, the distance between each other should be strictly adhered to during this period and the room should be well ventilated.

Lessons only start after the test. Even if all those tested are negative, this is done in compliance with the hygiene measures (distance, masks).

Who is being tested?

In Berlin: All students in face-to-face classes or in emergency care. The tests take place in small groups in the first lesson or at the beginning of emergency care.

Test options are also to be made available on-site in Berlin for those taking examinations to enable tests to be carried out before the exams. However, testing is not a prerequisite for participating in an exam.

In Brandenburg, the self-tests for the students do not take place on site at school, but rather at home, as in the week after Easter in Berlin. Pupils who do not want to test themselves are not allowed to attend face-to-face classes here either.

Are there alternatives?

As an alternative to the self-test in school, the pupils in Berlin can submit a certificate from a public test center stating a negative PCR or PoC test result. The test must not be older than 24 hours.

Schoolchildren who have already been fully vaccinated can present their vaccination card or other relevant evidence. The vaccination, which is necessary for complete vaccination protection, must be at least 14 days ago, according to the Senate Education Administration.

What if a child doesn't want to test themselves?

If the testing is not possible with a child, the school management should look for "individually adapted procedures" with the legal guardians. The School Psychology and Inclusive Education Advisory and Support Center (SIBUZ) can be consulted.

If the test is not possible for the legal guardian, the school management must be given reasons for this. How the schooling of the child can take place is decided jointly by the school management and parents or legal guardians (hardship rule).

For pupils who cannot be tested or can only be tested at home because of a disability, illness or comparable impairment, the hardship rule applies or the school management and parents decide on the type of schooling. Here, too, SIBUZ can be consulted for advice.

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What happens if children or teenagers test positive?

The person concerned is not considered to be corona positive until confirmed by a PCR test, but as a suspect.

According to the Senate, the following measures must be taken on site at the school: The child concerned should be separated from the group immediately and picked up by the parents or legal guardian as soon as possible. For the waiting situation, the schools should provide suitable rooms in which "sensitive" supervision takes place in compliance with the distance and hygiene regulations. Supervision can also take place outdoors.

The parents or legal guardians should be informed immediately and the further procedure coordinated with them. The then necessary PCR test is carried out for underage students together with their parents at one of the Berlin test centers. The children are in self-quarantine until the result of this test.

The other people who were in the room while the test was being carried out are not automatically contact persons. You take part in the class.

What criticism is there?

The Senate wrote self-critically in its information letter to the Berlin schools: "We are aware that this entails a further organizational challenge and a burden on the already limited everyday school life."

On April 15th, the GEW clearly positioned itself and described the test strategy in schools, which it basically considers to be correct, as chaotic and unreasonable [gew-berlin.de]. There are no legally secure regulations for educational staff in schools, it said. "We therefore advise the school staff against instructing the tests." The GEW had already said before: "Primary school children in particular need a lot of help with carrying out the tests. It starts with opening the chopstick pouch, doing the self-tests and closing the tubes," said Tom Erdmann on April 14th.

Norman Heise, chairman of the State Parents' Committee in Berlin, told ZEIT [fee-based article at zeit.de] that, as a father, it was incomprehensible "why a test must be compulsory in school". Politicians apparently do not trust parents to reliably test their children at home, Heise continued. In his opinion, many parents also fear that their child will be stigmatized if they test positive.

The Berliner Kinderschutzbund also complains that it is questionable how those affected should be cared for if the test result is positive. "Children have fears and are exposed to great shame in the classroom if the test result is positive," said a spokesman. The school staff should be informed of the test results verbally and confidentially; children and young people have the same right. In addition, the already short teaching time will be further shortened by the tests in the school.

Finally, virologists warn that negative test results could lull children and adolescents into a false sense of security - and that this could make them careless about distance rules.

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What is the legal situation?

A student has already failed before the Higher Administrative Court of Berlin-Brandenburg with an urgent application against the compulsory corona test at Brandenburg schools. The 11th Senate of the court refused to provisionally suspend Paragraph 17a of Brandenburg's Corona Containment Ordinance on April 12th.

The pandemic regulation, against which the student had taken action, essentially regulates that from April 19, access to schools and thus also participation in face-to-face classes is only permitted with a negative corona test. The court did not share the applicant's view that this provision has no basis in the Infection Protection Act. It is also not imposing that "producing a negative test would be disproportionate," said a court announcement. With a view to the third corona wave and the high incidences, everything speaks for the fact that health protection justifies this encroachment on freedom of action.

As early as the end of March, the Saxon Higher Administrative Court of Bautzen rejected several urgent applications against compulsory testing at Saxon schools.

Broadcast: Kulturradio, April 19, 2021, 6 a.m.

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46 comments

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  1. 46.

    I don't want to offend you, but couldn't you have insisted on a PCR test or seen another test site or doctor?

    Whether the test center gets into trouble afterwards is, in my opinion, of secondary importance.
    (Of course, it has to be clarified and removed as quickly as possible.)

    First of all, it would be important to know whether your child / family is infected in order to break the "chain" and "secure" others around you.

    Stay healthy!

  2. 45.

    We went (as prescribed) to one of the official post-test centers.

    The school management has already forwarded our "case" to the school office. Let's see if the corresponding test center receives trouble afterwards.

  3. 44.

    So bullshit or do you believe these tests? Or to put it another way, what kind of problem do you have with a few students? Just keep your distance. In return, I work with over 200 people in a company every day and that is also possible. In all honesty, many teachers just take advantage of this because they are lazy and do not accept change and do not want to continue their education. It is exactly like that.

  4. 43.

    It seems to be handled very differently, one would hardly believe.

    At our school, the school management will tell you exactly where to go after the positive rapid test for PCR testing. That works then too. Probably because you will then be registered on the official site ...
    How was it with you?

  5. 42.

    Unfortunately, it's not that easy to leave it at home. My children (6th, 9th + 11th grade) don't go to school and we have to laboriously look for everything together. After all, it is classroom teaching and the teachers "cannot afford" that they provide the students with material. But the health of my children is more important to me and that's why we have to go through it.

  6. 41.

    I am a teacher and have to teach rapid tests from Monday. I will refuse to do this. I have already informed the school management about this and I was threatened with legal consequences. I will accept that. I will supervise my class in the sense of my normal teaching duties. But I will not guide and check any quick tests. A test requirement at home would be sufficient.

  7. 40.

    If everyone would support the testing and were honest, I can also test at home. Unfortunately, that's not how it is.

    The ongoing petition against self-tests includes a lot of comments from parents who, out of the deepest conviction, would NOT test their children at home, but will insist on going to school. Sample letters are even circulating for these parents in order to obtain exceptions for their child from the school management.

  8. 39.

    So, in and of itself, I have nothing against testing my child, but ...

    We have now practiced several times that my child tests himself (2nd grade) and it is so uncomfortable for my child that it asks for my help every time. Why can't children be tested at home, as in Brandenburg?
    Sometimes there is a risk of penalties if you can be shown to certify a positive test result as a negative result as a parent!

  9. 38.

    No, just a new rapid test, although we explicitly mentioned the positive rapid test at home.

  10. 37.

    Has your entire family then been subjected to a PCR test?

  11. 36.

    Incidentally, the post-test is a joke! A quick test is used to check this! If it is negative, you can go, otherwise PCR. No one has taken it for full that the instruction is, after a positive rapid test at home, PCR afterwards. We were told the Senate directed the testing centers to do this ...

    Without words!

  12. 35.

    That is not right. We also had a positive result the week (with a self-test to practice at home), but the classmates were allowed to go to class. Only if our child had been positive in the follow-up test would the quarantine have been ordered for the entire class.

    Just for information: everything was good during the follow-up test. Nonetheless, my child's nerves were on edge when there were two lines on the test ... and so did our parents.

  13. 34.

    It's all so sad ... Now, from the few hours that the students can learn in school, there is still time for it. Why can't you continue to test from home and hand in the signed declaration. Is there so little trust in parents?

  14. 33.

    In Berlin, as from Monday, mandatory self-test at school twice a week.

  15. 32.

    Maybe you should read the text again!
    No other child has to be quarantined after a positive rapid test!

    After a positive PCR test, yes, but that was the case the whole time.

    And what's the nonsense with the "presumption of innocence"?
    We are in a worldwide pandemic, everyone can infect himself or then infect someone else at any time.

    Oh yes, the "centuries-long establishment of a solid constitutional state is being undermined at will", your basic rights are disregarded and the children are now also placed under general suspicion !?
    Now really angry: The demo today was probably not that successful?

  16. 31.

    Not the kids !!! But the incompetent and whining parents.

  17. 30.

    Absolutely mindless to have the students in Berlin tested at school. Who just thought of that again? If one is positive, then the whole class has to be quarantined. The students in Berlin are assumed to be unable to do this correctly at home or perhaps even refuse to do so entirely. So our children are already being put under general suspicion. It took centuries to build a solid constitutional state, and within 14 months it can be overturned at will. Doesn't the presumption of innocence apply in principle?

  18. 29.

    "What is the legal situation?"

    In Brandenburg: Section 17a of the Corona Containment Ordinance.

    In Berlin: NONE!
    The Senate failed to formulate a legal basis.
    The GEW therefore advises teachers not to take part in the testing of students in order not to break the law. A warning is given of possible consequences under civil service law.

  19. 28.

    People come down again ... We already have the tests at home, it's not that bad. My child has absolutely no problems with that, just let your children do it. If it doesn't work at all, then you have to leave your children at home - there is no other option. The chopsticks are not pushed in as far as they will go, it is only in the front part and absolutely not a problem. My child is mentally disabled and said that he would like to do it alone on Monday morning, and I will let him do that under supervision.

  20. 27.

    It is not that open at all as to whether this will also make schools safer, but one has to classify it correctly.
    Between "much safer" and "nothing" is not nothing, but quite a lot.
    It would be unsuitable as the sole measure - but that's not how it is intended. This makes it easy to discover clusters and thus effectively interrupt chains of infection - very helpful, especially in the 3rd wave.
    But what you should have on the screen for rapid tests:
    It has now been shown in practice that there is a blind spot of 2-3 infectious days (out of a total of 8).
    The first 1-2 days before and the day on which the symptoms start are not recognized, i.e. overlooked (PCR would have long been positive). The result is very reliable on the remaining infectious days.
    It is a good tool for finding clusters in fixed groups with regular testing - but not without accompanying measures or even as a free ticket.