Neukölln: Eleven school employees under quarantine

A case of coronavirus has been identified at a Neukölln primary school. Pupils aren’t affected by the quarantine.

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Berlin-Eleven staff members at a Neukölln primary school have gone into quarantine following a confirmed case of coronavirus. Martin Klesmann, spokesman for Berlin’s education department, confirmed the news to Berliner Zeitung, though he wouldn't name the school to “maintain calm”.

The quarantined employees include four teachers, a janitor and other personnel with the infected person belonging to the latter. Meetings last week led to contact with the infected person, before pupils arrived for the new school year.

The employees who may have contracted the disease were not present at school on Monday, Neukölln officials told Berliner Zeitung.

Lessons won’t be cancelled: “All classes will be taught, though partially in shortened form,” said a spokeswoman. The isolated teachers are keeping in touch with their pupils from home. The quarantine will last until 20 August.

Klesman said that the school administration was unaware of any further cases of infection or suspected infection. The new school year began in Berlin on August 10. Pupils and teaching staff are required to wear facemasks in corridors, stairwells and toilets. Rules on minimal social distances have been dropped.

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Since last week, all relatives of school employees have been able to receive a free coronavirus test at five testing locations. Day-care staff have been able to do so since the beginning of July. Both groups need to register online - they can receive log in details from their employers.

Berlin’s testing strategy also has 24 schools participating in a year-long study by Charité Hospital. Every three months the same pupils and school workers will undergo blood tests for the coronavirus as well as antibodies.

Charité is also planning a pilot project under which school and day-care staff – as well as pupils showing light symptoms – will be able perform the test themselves at home. It’s hoped that this approach could lower the testing load of doctors and hospitals once the wave of colds arrives in autumn and winter.

Right now, however, it’s too early to say whether self-testing works and delivers reliable results.

District health authorities (Gesundheitsämter) are responsible for dealing with suspected corona infections in schools and kindergartens with district medical officers deciding which measures to take.

This approach has come under fire: Critics complain that there has been no unified strategy in the way Berlin’s districts have tackled corona cases. Representatives of parents and schools, welfare organisations, but also politicians such as the Greens’ spokesperson on educational policy, Marianne Burkert-Eulitz, have also called for a citywide corona strategy for schools and day-care centres.

More articles at Berliner Zeitung's English Edition.