School closings are again an issue in view of the increasing number of infections across Austria, but scientifically it cannot be said with certainty how much the approximately 5,500 educational institutions are responsible for the virus transmission.
Within schools, however, there was recently an astonishing analysis by the health agency AGES: It is more often the educators who bring the virus into schools and infect colleagues and students – not the other way around. This was learned by members of parliament during a meeting with Minister Rudolf Anschober and his experts on Monday.
After this knowledge, Neos social spokesman Gerald Loacker once again calls for alternatives to school closure to be evaluated: For example, the expansion of test capacities for schools and kindergartens, an extended mask requirement or the division into groups.
The SPÖ is also pushing for the range of tests to be expanded – and suggests, for example, gargle tests for parents at home if their children are showing symptoms right now, in the cooler season. But one thing is certain, says health spokesman Philip Kucher: “None of the experts has presented data that shows the need to close schools.”
AHS director’s spokeswoman Isabella Zins proposes a compromise in the event of closings: “We want the schools to remain open. Should it come to the fact that the lower grades also have to be converted to distance learning, this should only be done for the pupils in the 7th and 8th grades. That would also be the case Relieve parents, because at this age young people no longer need as much care. “
However, a group of Austrian scientists from different disciplines immediately called for significantly stricter measures. It now needs the immediate closure of all schools, the “obligation to work from home wherever possible” and the increase of the minimum distance from one to two meters, otherwise Austria would be threatened with overloaded hospitals and triage.
“In contrast to the rigorous lockdown in spring, the ‘lockdown light’ is partly based on the wrong measures and is much too loose,” say the mathematician Peter Markowich, the computer scientist Georg Gottlob and the two physicists Christoph Nägerl and Erich Gornik, all of them sponsors the Wittgenstein Prize – the highest science award in Austria. You see “according to all scientific evidence Austria has been driving unchecked into the catastrophe of overburdened hospitals for weeks”.
The Society for Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, which invites you to a media talk this Tuesday, sees it completely differently: “In our opinion, the current figures are clear evidence that closing schools is not an efficient measure to contain the spread of the virus . The Tyrolean high schools have now been taking distance lessons for three weeks, and nothing has changed in the exponential increase in the number of infected people in the population, ”write the doctors.