Today's youth is disciplined

Youth researcher on school openings : "Climate savers are disciplined - but not for much longer"

"Depending on the incidence of infection" and subject to strict distance and hygiene requirements, if possible every student in Germany should be able to go back to school temporarily until the summer vacation. This is what the “Framework Concept for the Resumption of Classes and Schools” of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (KMK) says.

It forms the basis for the recommendation of the Chancellor and the Prime Minister to attend school during the Corona crisis, which is expected for this Wednesday.

But are children and young people at all willing and able, in particular, to keep the required safety distance of one and a half meters as soon as they are no longer sitting at their individual desks in the classroom?

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Alexandra Langmeyer from the German Youth Institute (DJI) in Munich is optimistic: "Children and young people have understood well that we are living in a pandemic." Everything revolves around Corona, their whole lives have changed. Teachers could easily build on this prior knowledge if pupils now gradually return to the schools, says Langmeyer, who heads the specialist group “Living environments and situations of children” at the DJI.

In the case of FFF for restricted mobility, in the case of a pandemic for requirements

The Berlin youth researcher Klaus Hurrelmann observes that “children and young people have so far been disciplined in an astonishing way”. "You stayed at home, a large majority coped with the limited situation."

This allows a good prognosis for their behavior in school. Hurrelmann even sees the older children and adolescents as the avant-garde when it comes to inspecting government guidelines in the fight against the pandemic, if they are scientifically proven. "At Fridays for Future, for example, they advocate restricted mobility in order to save the climate, which is why they are now open to health protection in the pandemic," says Hurrelmann, Professor of Public Health at the Hertie School of Governance.

When seeing friends and classmates again, however, the threat from Covid-19 will "not always be so present," says Alexandra Langmeyer from the DJI. Especially since the sometimes contradicting news about the risk of infection for children and adolescents is circulating in families.

[You can also read how Denmark, the pioneer in opening up primary schools, is keeping a distance]

Therefore, teachers would have to explain to them again and again that they themselves - without previous illnesses - would probably not become ill at all or not seriously if they were infected, but that they could pass the virus on to older people.

The KMK chairman Stefanie Hubig (SPD) has already stated that due to "hygiene requirements in schools, the smaller study groups and the need to maintain the distance", there will be no regular school operations for the approximately eleven million schoolchildren in Germany before the summer holidays .

SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach even tweeted on Monday that regular classes would have to be canceled “for at least a year”. That could be "considered epidemiologically safe". Precautionary measures could not change anything about the “transmission through aerosols and contacts in the classroom”.

Assuming that the gradual opening of the schools at least once or twice a week for face-to-face classes, how should teachers enforce the strict rules? They should “not fall into an authoritarian system,” warns Langmeyer. And advises to convey to the children why the political guidelines have to be implemented.

[How schools are prepared for the change between face-to-face teaching and homeschooling can be found in our current article: Most schools do not have a concept for distance learning]

They should also negotiate and design details together with their students: “Draw a poster about what keeping your distance should look like or how we wash our hands.” They tend to adhere to the rules that children and young people help establish in a participatory process a.

With young people - despite all the understanding of the state of emergency - it is likely to be more difficult, at least outside of school, says Klaus Hurrelmann. “From the age of 13.14 you have to be outside, you want to test your limits, have social and first sexual contacts.” This is part of the personality development that could not be lived for many weeks - “and now breaks out of it”.

Warning of corona parties

It is the task of schools and parents to continue to appeal to reason. "However, society has to accept defiant reactions and the resulting increased spread of the virus in the face of the general easing and thus also of the school openings," says Hurrelmann.

On the other hand, many things also take place virtually - not just large parts of the lesson. “The digital natives sometimes cannot tell whether they have met someone physically or online.” It is to be hoped that creative communication will at least limit unintentional “corona parties”.

Alexandra Langmeyer is in the middle of a study on "Being a child in times of Corona", it is about the role of friends and family and about media use. A preliminary finding: "School is an important field of socialization, which is why it is important for children and young people to make contact with their peers again." At the same time, learning is an incentive to go back to school - especially for children who are at home do not have ideal conditions for homeschooling.

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