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Giffey: Suspension of mandatory attendance in schools was parents' wish

Franziska Giffey (r), Governing Mayor of Berlin.

Franziska Giffey (right), Governing Mayor of Berlin.

Berlin's Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey is convinced that the decision to suspend mandatory attendance at schools was the right one.

Suspension of mandatory attendance in response to "obvious problem"

There had been a situation in which, because of rising incidences, parents had increasingly wanted to decide for themselves whether their children attended school, Giffey stated at the "Tagesspiegel Live" talk event on Wednesday evening (Jan. 26, 2022). "Now, we could have discussed this for days." Instead, she said, the Senate voted to draw consequences and remove some of the pressure that many parents felt. "Of course, in this case there was no long discussion process. But, in turn, there was a quick reaction to a problem that was obviously there," the SPD politician said in an interview with "Tagesspiegel" editor Stephan-Andreas Casdorff and editor-in-chief Christian Tretbar.

No major changes in practice

When out and about, Giffey stated that she heard many requests to leave schools open. "It doesn't matter if it's in the hospital or in my hallway." The second request, she said, is: "Let us decide for ourselves." Giffey stated that the suspension of compulsory attendance would not lead to any major changes in practice: "It's all the same as before." The only difference, she said, is that parents have the option of taking their child out of school for a day or two or a week. "We're talking about a very limited period of time."

Omicron wave expected to peak in February

Giffey pointed out that the schools' winter holidays already started on Friday. "After that, we have exactly 15 school days left until the end of February." During that period, she said, infection numbers are expected to peak. "Those are the days where we'll have higher incidences and where even more parents would have said, but I want to decide this for my children myself," Giffey said. "I hope that, by then, we'll be at a point where numbers will go down again. And then, as of March 1, compulsory attendance will be reinstated as normal."

Mandatory attendance in Brandenburg already suspended since December

Giffey said she spoke on the phone with Brandenburg's Minister for Education, Britta Ernst (SPD), on Wednesday. in Brandenburg, compulsory attendance has been suspended since December. "I asked, How did that work out for you," Giffey said. Ernst had replied that this decision had made it possible to keep the schools open. In practice, there were only two to five percent of parents who took advantage of the option. Teachers' associations and the GEW union had sharply criticized the Berlin Senate's decision, which Senator for Education Astrid-Sabine Busse announced on Monday.

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Author: dpa
Publication date: 27 January 2022
Last updated: 27 January 2022

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