Either hopscotch or pretending to be a coronavirus, your call.
Photo: Volkmar Otto

Berlin - At least 41 of Berlin’s 825 regular public schools have either students or staff – or both – in quarantine because of corona infection, according to Berlin government statistics acquired exclusively by Berliner Zeitung.

The figures include state-run public schools as well as public schools run by outside organisations, such as religious institutions. Despite high-profile cases, the Karl Weise primary school in Neukölln and the Gerhart Hauptmann secondary in Treptow-Köpenick aren't included because the quarantines there have ended. 

The list was current as of Thursday at 3pm.

Thursday’s statistics show that just 4.5 per cent of the capital’s regular schools are affected – figures for vocational schools are not available. The most cases have been reported in schools in the districts of Reinickendorf, Steglitz-Zehlendorf, Mitte and Spandau, with seven, six, five and five cases, respectively.

Sorry about the German: The number of schools affected is in bold with the number of people in parentheses. The figure inside the circle is how many schools are in each dstrict.

The figures show that Berlin schools are not a hotbed of corona, the city’s top education official, Sandra Scheeres (SPD) said: “Infections are usually carried into schools from outside.”

Marzahn-Hellersdorf and Pankow have the most regular schools but have yet to report a single case of corona infection, according to the statistics. One case is however known at the Max Bill School, a vocational school, in Pankow.

No specific type of school appears to be more susceptible to the virus. Taking Spandau as an example, a primary school and an integrated secondary school as well as two public and one private grammar school have each had one case.

Although the list is the first time authorities have prepared an overview, they plan to now do so regularly.

“A new processing method is currently being developed so that weekly reports can then be sent to the districts,” an education spokesperson said . Neukölln has already developed a barometer that it will provide to schools at least once a week – one has already been produced and released.

Politician Scheeres has created a hygiene advisory board to work out plans in case the situation at Berlin schools worsens. The board will convene Monday and includes Charité Professor Frank Mockenhaupt, who is responsible for Berlin’s testing strategy.

Such a list may be new for schools but is old hat for the city’s Kitas, or daycare centres. Only seven of Berlin’s 2,700 Kitas are currently affected by a corona infection with one closed and others with individuals quarantined.

Education workers not showing symptoms can undergo free testing at five centres throughout the city but demand is so strong that appointments are difficult to get – teachers have complained of weeks-long waits. The centres also aren’t always convenient – the Vivantes hospital in Prenzlauer Berg is the only testing centre in the former east, for example.

“Opening hours from 1p to 4 pm – teachers are actually still at school. And those from further away can't make it at all,” said a Köpenick teacher.

0.2 per cent is good, right?

The strange opening hours are to ensure those potentially infection-free are separated from those with symptoms.

“Expanding availability is already in planning,” spokesman Matthias Kuder told the Berliner Zeitung on Thursday. Geography is also being taken into account for increased availability.

Kunder also urged teachers and school staff to be considerate of colleagues by cancelling appointments that can’t be kept: “The rate of booked but unrealised appointments was 25 per cent,” he said.

The results so far have been encouraging: of the 2,605 tests so far, only five came back positive, according to city officials. That’s 0.2 per cent.