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Germany: Face-to-face classes not expected anytime soon

January 4, 2021

Lars Klingbeil of Germany's Social Democratic Party has suggested that working parents with young kids requiring daycare during COVID lockdown must be given paid leave by their employers.

A complete return to face-to-face teaching in Germany is highly unlikely at the moment
A complete return to face-to-face teaching in Germany is highly unlikely at the momentImage: Annegret Hilse/REUTERS

As German authorities are expected to extend the coronavirus lockdown for at least three more weeks, the country's Social Democrats demanded that parents who require daycare for their children must be given paid holidays.

"The companies should give parents paid leave from work," SPD General Secretary Lars Klingbeil told Bild Live on Sunday.

Klingbeil said his suggestion makes perfect sense as schools and daycare centers have remained closed under a lockdown after Christmas holidays.

The Social Democrat said there are indications that schools can be a source of COVID-19 infections. "It should be made clear whether face-to-face classes from first to sixth grades, as well as in graduating classes, are possible again," he added.

German health officials said Sunday the country had registered 10,315 new coronavirus infections and 312 related deaths in the past 24 hours.

Step by step normalcy

Meanwhile, Federal Education Minister Anja Karliczek of the Christian Democratic Union party believes that a quick return to face-to-face teaching is unlikely for all students, adding that the coronavirus infection rate is "still worryingly high" in the country.

"A complete return to face-to-face teaching in all grades is therefore inconceivable at the moment, " she emphasized.

Karliczek said that if face-to-face classes were to take place, it would be "at best only be done under strict compliance with hygiene regulations, including mask wearing."

"In any case, it is better to act carefully than at some point not being able to allow classroom teaching at all due to an even worse situation," the CDU politician said, adding that the situation will remain difficult in coming weeks.

"I think that this year we will return to normalcy step by step – in schools and other educational institutions."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will hold a consultative meeting with the heads of federal states on Tuesday to discuss how to proceed with the ongoing lockdown situation.