Should homeschoolers have summer break

Review 2020Chronology of a school year in the corona crisis

March 13, 2020

It's a Friday the 13th that goes down in German history. After a meeting of the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs the day before, all federal states decide to close the schools for the time being. They should open - as of now - on April 20, after the Easter break.

First up to the Easter holidays - this is how the infection process should be shut down. The question that arises for teachers, parents and students: How will things continue until then?

March 16

Emergency care will be set up for children who have parents with systemically important jobs.
For pupils to whom this does not apply, this means from now on: home schooling.

March 23

But as quickly as the term home schooling gets around, problems also arise quickly: They are old omissions that are now being punished: No digital infrastructure in the schools, digitally overwhelmed teachers, no end devices among the students.

The head of a comprehensive school in Essen: "We assume that WLAN is not everywhere, that not every child has their own workplace and that the children have to do it alone."

(imago / Westend61) Homeschooling in the corona crisis
Homeschooling in the corona crisis is not suitable for every school child. In households with little education, the prerequisites for successful distance learning are often not given, said Axel Plünnecke from the Institute of German Economy in the Dlf. The parents' digital competence is also important for successful learning.

March 24th

Can high school students graduate from high school in the midst of a pandemic? After much back and forth from individual federal states, the Conference of Ministers of Education decides: Stefanie Hubig: "We have a clear plan and the plan is: The Abitur exams will take place. Period."

Previously, for example, there had been a suggestion from Schleswig-Holstein that the Abi grade should be calculated without a final examination. But the ministers failed - and the exams are supposed to take place.

26th of March

The pandemic is moving the digital expansion of schools - at least on paper. The federal states now also want to use the money from the digital pact for schools to set up and expand online learning platforms.

March 31

The Robert Koch Institute with a groundbreaking U-turn for the school: Mouth and nose protection is expressly recommended with immediate effect. Because the virus spreads even without symptoms.

April 2nd

Germany has been in home schooling for almost two weeks - digital lessons depend on the teachers in many places. Education Minister Karliczek therefore says: "Thank you to those who are now trying in many ways to make the Educational Republic of Germany a reality."

April 13th

On Easter Monday - in the middle of the Easter holidays - the Leopoldina Science Academy will present a report on how a gradual return to everyday life can be achieved. Essential component: the opening of schools. The primary school students should start, then secondary level 1. The focus should initially be on the core subjects math and German, with a reduced group size.

April 15th

Day of relaxation: Angela Merkel and the Prime Minister decide to take the first small step towards normalcy - schools should start again from May 4th.

"It has to be in reduced groups, there has to be a school bus concept, there has to be a break concept. So there will be a lot of logistical effort."

The graduating classes should come back first, then the classes that will graduate in the coming year. Each federal state determines when and which year level starts. A confusing patchwork quilt emerges.

April 16

A practical problem for many teachers these days: well-functioning communication tools may not be used while teaching - because, for example, the license is not paid by the school authority. An expansion of the digital pact for schools should remedy this. In the future, the funds will also be used for licenses - but the conditions for funding are sometimes very strict - which leads to frustration among teachers.

(imago / archideaphoto) Bureaucracy hurdles - Why the digital pact for schools and the training bonuses have so far failed
Changing standards, bureaucratic hurdles, tough implementation: These are the criticisms of the digital pact for schools and the training bonus for companies. Why is that? Why are the funds for the digitization of schools only being accessed slowly?


20th of April

Saxony is the first federal state to open schools again - initially only for the Abitur class. North Rhine-Westphalia and Saxony-Anhalt follow three days later. Unions and parents criticize that there is no clear timetable and that every federal state does something different. Maiß: "Of course we need a safe situation for the pupils and for the teachers on site. So the keyword that was mentioned several times yesterday, we need a safe hygiene concept."

April 24th

Corona acts like a magnifying glass on the problems in schools - there is a lot of catching up to do, especially in the digital world - despite the digital pact for schools. After lengthy discussions, the grand coalition decides on emergency aid: 500 million for the schools' online offers - in addition, every student should receive a subsidy for a device - too little and too late, criticize the unions.

April 27

In many federal states, many students are returning to school for the first time. At the same time, the KMK meets and advises on how to proceed. Every student should go back to school by the summer vacation. One problem: Many teachers belong to the corona risk group and are afraid of being infected in the classroom. There is therefore no obligation for teachers to be present - that exacerbates the teacher shortage, criticizes the Federal Parents' Council.

Wasmuth: "Now we know that in rural areas, in smaller elementary schools, sec 1, sec 2 have a high age among teachers who may belong to the risk groups, and it will certainly be difficult to open schools at all or to enter the way you plan to do it at the moment. "

May 4th

In many federal states, more years are coming back to schools today - strict hygiene regulations and distance rules apply everywhere, which pose great challenges for schools and teachers.

Bücker: "We have set up a one-way street system that has certain entrances and exits for certain groups. Disinfectant dispensers have now been set up at all entrances. It wasn't easy to get them, but we have a very smart caretaker there, he built the stands himself and we got support from a local distillery and got disinfectants. "

May 11th

The teachers have been working on the attack since school started, report the unions - divided classes, distance learning - everything is an additional workload. Nevertheless, one has to look into the future now - because the virus will not simply go away, says union chairman Marlis Tepe in an interview.

"There are both remote and face-to-face lessons, and I believe we will have to get involved in that for a long time. And the task will be to consider how this hybrid form can be designed well after the summer vacation."

May 15

The digital pact for schools is officially increased - 500 million, so that school classes can be equipped with end devices. The devices should remain in the possession of the schools and be loaned to students. The unions praise: Above all, focus schools can be helped with the money.

May 18

Lessons have started again - but there can be no talk of a return to everyday life. Teachers who belong to the risk group stay at home in many federal states. In order to cushion the teacher shortage, it is discussed to send student teachers to schools. The first projects are being launched in Lower Saxony.

May 24th

Many students are still in home schooling because the schools do not have enough space for the equalized classes or there are not enough teachers to supervise them. Parents complain to the state government that there is no clarity on how to proceed. Franz-Josef Kahlen from the North Rhine-Westphalia State Parents' Association: "That is what we want leadership and concepts that are suitable for everyday use and free of room for interpretation. We need a master plan for the schooling concept for the coming school year as part of the North Rhine-Westphalia plan."

28th of May

Masks at school - that's a constant topic this year. In the hallways, during the break or even in class? In the federal states there are different regulations that are constantly changing. In some places complaints are made against the requirement to wear a mask, others can be exempted from it with the help of a certificate. Like many things this year, it remains a patchwork quilt.

June 3rd

Change of course in NRW: Older or pre-ill teachers are no longer generally exempt from classroom teaching. The announcement by the School Minister Gebauer met with massive criticism.

June 8th

The primary schools in Schleswig-Holstein are reopening - there the pupils should study in class every day and without any distance regulations - Lower Saxony also starts again a week later, and the other federal states are gradually following suit. Wölky: "We now have to see how things continue after the holidays. This is also a test for the time after the summer holidays, because we all wish that we can then prepare for a normal school year."

(imago images / photothek) Corona warning app - Still a lot of development around the Corona app
The Corona warning app is available. It was developed very quickly. But there were also some things that fell by the wayside that should now be made up for. An overview of the development status of the Corona warning app.

June 16

The Corona app is launched. The problem in schools: In many schools there is a cell phone ban, even if this is nowhere stipulated by law. History teacher Marc Albrecht-Herrmanns suggests that the app can also be used as a lesson. "With the German development of the app, you can show how hard you have tried to avoid tracking, how the development of an app works, if you reveal the source code and include all possible users in advance."

18th of June

The Standing Conference decides that all pupils should be taught in regular school operations again after the summer vacation. The distance regulation should be omitted - if the infection process allows it.

June 22

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is the first federal state to go into summer vacation and a historic school year is coming to an end. In many countries, however, learning should continue: in so-called summer schools, underperforming students can catch up on subjects that they missed during home schooling. Usually voluntary and in the core subjects math, German and English. In Berlin, for example, students help out because the summer school is also voluntary for the teachers.

Kieseltan: "What we are doing here is that we teach the last six months of the seventh grade, what the children missed during the Corona period and what will also be the focus in the upcoming 8th grade."

23rd June

The National Education Report is presented. And it shows that there is still no convincing strategy for education in the digitized world in Germany. Research by the focus had previously shown that hardly any money was called up from the School Digital Pact, mainly because the application process is too complicated and too bureaucratic.

June 30th

When the schools closed in March, one group was the main focus: the final classes. How should the Abitur work in times of pandemics? In the end it worked and in some federal states the results were even better than in the past. In Berlin and Hamburg, the average grades were better than last year. There is only trouble in Bremen. There, the grades of the math exam have to be raised, as well as in Saxony.

July 4th

Before the summer break, the focus is once again on digitization and equipment in schools. The expansion of the digital pact for schools comes into force. Karliczek: "And now the way is clear so that schools can procure laptops and tablets for 500 million euros and then lend them to those pupils who do not have their own devices."

Some states such as Berlin and North Rhine-Westphalia apparently did not want to wait for federal money and had already launched their own aid programs beforehand. After all, one thing became clear in the home schooling days: Not every student has access to tablets and a laptop.

15th of July

The return to normal operations without distance regulations after the summer vacation is welcomed by education experts, but some teachers see it critically. Because many belong to the risk group and are afraid of the virus slinging classroom. NRW is therefore offering free tests for teachers from the summer holidays; Lower Saxony, Hesse and other states follow with similar models.

July 23

The number of new infections is slowly increasing again in Germany. And with you the worry about school closings again. The German teachers' association is therefore calling for a 10-point plan: clear guidelines must be developed as to when regular teaching becomes distance teaching again, how pupils and teachers can be protected with regular tests and when ventilation systems can be used. Above all, the discussion about a ventilation concept will determine the coming six months.

August 03

Start of school after the holidays. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is the first to start again. The first week is mainly about a mask requirement in schools, which is used very differently by the countries. North Rhine-Westphalia is the only federal state to start with a mask requirement in class - in many other countries, for example, it applies in buildings and on the way to school.

Torben Krauss from the Federal Schoolchildren Conference criticizes the fact that the opinion of the pupils does not play a role in the discussions.

"In the past it was unfortunately very seldom the case that we were brought to the table. So we were skilfully ignored by the Conference of Ministers of Education, the Federal Minister of Education does not invite us to talks, nor does it come to our conferences. That is It's a shame because we are also very intensively involved with the topic. "

August 07

The first week - the first corona cases in schools in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. A high school has to close because a teacher becomes infected - at an elementary school, a pupil tests positive.

August 14th

Unofficial school summit in the Chancellery. Education Minister Karliczek, SPD leader Esken and Chancellor Merkel agree on a package of measures for schools that is even described as a milestone by teachers' associations:

- Teachers should get service laptops.
- All students should receive discounted internet access.
- A center for digital education is to be created and
- A nationwide digital education platform is to be set up

18th of August

15.7 million euros - that is the amount that has so far been called up from the School Digital Pact. Just 0.4 percent of the five billion euros that were made available for this purpose last year. Seven countries, including Berlin, Bavaria and Saxony, have not yet received a euro.

KMK President Hubig admits there is room for improvement in the interview. "But what is correct is that we have to get faster with the digital pact. Especially the media education concepts seem to be the brake blocks in some countries. That is why I am pleased that the Federal Minister of Education followed my suggestion that we said: Media education concepts will be submitted later can be submitted later. It is important that we move forward quickly now. "

(Imago images / Sven Simon) Learning backlog in homeschooling - corona crisis halved student learning time
The loss of lessons in the past few months caused by the corona crisis could not even be compensated for by so-called homeschooling - according to the result of a study by the Ifo Institute for the Economics of Education. Why is that and how could the deficits be compensated?

August 31

Thuringia is the last federal state to start the new school year. One topic is discussed further: the mask requirement. As is so often the case, every country goes more or less its own way. In North Rhine-Westphalia there is no longer a mask requirement in class - Schleswig-Holstein is changing from a recommendation to wear a mask.

At the federal-state meeting, there is therefore a demand for a uniform step-by-step plan for corona measures in schools, which is intended to replace the nationwide patchwork quilt.

September 2nd

The new hygiene requirements lead to criticism in many schools: For example, it says in a fire letter from the NRW school principal that it cannot be implemented and is not well thought out. In addition to the masks, the focus is particularly on ventilation.

"Then we will certainly have ventilation problems in schools, through windows that are not always or often not in the right condition so that the ventilation we need there can be carried out."

As an alternative, room air purifiers are under discussion. These are supposed to filter the air and free it from aerosols in the classroom. But the Federal Environment Agency warns: These cleaners are not magic bullets. Better is the tried and tested shock ventilation or ventilation systems.

September 08

As every year, the OECD presents its education report, and as every year it is a hot topic. This year, the report primarily criticizes digital education in Germany and the inadequate equipping of German schools with digital learning platforms.

September 20th

In North Rhine-Westphalia only a quarter of the funds for student laptops have been called up from the expansion of the digital pact. This results in a request to the Ministry of Education. Many school authorities are still in the process of organizing the purchase of thousands of devices. 179 million euros have been earmarked for North Rhine-Westphalia - that is not enough to supply all hotspot schools, says the headmistress Grajewski from Essen.

"But if you don't get enough equipment, then you've passed this decision down very easily. We then decide: you get one and you don't."

September 22

School summit in the Chancellery. Angela Merkel meets Minister Karliczek and the education ministers of the federal states. You want to prepare for winter and increasing numbers of infections. But the big hit is missing: The money for business laptops should flow faster, the Internet education flat rate for schoolchildren is more concrete - there are also 500 million for IT administration in schools. Teachers, for example, should finally get work e-mail addresses and work laptops. The reaction of the unions is subdued.

Beckmann: "The public gets the impression: now the millions are flowing without end and tomorrow the schools will all be well equipped. Parents have high expectations, but hardly anything has arrived at the schools now." In order to get the money on the way for the schools, the School Digital Pact is being provided with an additional program a second time.

25th of September

The closer winter comes, the more the question arises: How should the intermittent ventilation work in cold temperatures? In many classrooms this fall, students and teachers are sitting with hats and scarfs. There is no sensible alternative, says the RKI, only supplements. Bavaria's Prime Minister Söder has launched a 50 million program for the installation of ventilation systems and CO2 traffic lights. NRW also provides financial aid for mobile ventilation systems. Hesse and Lower Saxony will not set up such a program until November.

30. September

The public debate about whether schools are corona hotspots continues to be heated. Time and again, outbreaks mean that classes have to be quarantined and schools have to be closed. But: Only every fifth newly infected person is under 20 in autumn.

October 07

The teachers in Bavaria are sounding the alarm. A shortage of teachers and the Corona crisis mean that lessons can only be maintained with difficulty in many places. The chairman of the Bavarian teaching association, Fleischmann, demands that one should not only concentrate on the digitization of schools, one must finally do something about the shortage of teachers.

"Laptops don't teach lessons unless someone is in the classroom."

"Applause isn't enough for headmasters. Colleagues outside get pimples right now when they read this."

October 14th

Rising numbers of infections mean that school closings are being talked about again. There is also a new proposal: an extension of the Christmas holidays. This gave rise to the idea of ​​starting the Christmas holidays earlier so that students can celebrate Christmas with their grandparents after a self-quarantine. NRW is the first state to implement the plan, followed by other states.

15th October

The Conference of Ministers of Education presents the new State Treaty on Education - after 56 years there is a new set of rules for education federalism. More transparency, more nationwide comparability of the financial statements and an overall more planned, joint approach. Ilka Hoffmann from the GEW calls the new resolution "backward-looking":

"We hoped that if there was such an agreement, we would address precisely these questions: How can we reduce equal opportunities in our education system and how can we tackle a particularly big problem courageously: the shortage of teachers."

October 19th

The federal government wants to support the upgrading of existing ventilation systems nationwide with 500 million euros. Problem for the schools: The money is not earmarked for the installation of new systems. So many schools go away empty-handed because for the most part there are no ventilation systems.

October 21

Stricter hygiene measures should actually apply in schools if the incidence value in the municipality is 50 or higher - but at many hot-spot schools nothing happens at first. The German Teachers' Association therefore demands that change models be set up in hotspots. The concept is to cut classes in half and teach both groups alternately at school and at home. The KMK reaffirmed this week: Schools should run as long as possible in regular operation.

October 25

The number of cases is increasing in Germany. In Berchtesgaden, the incidence value is so high that schools are being closed across the board again for the first time. And that meets with massive resistance from parents. "Essentially, the vacation is used up. You have to see how you organize it when there are no grandparents. Many self-employed people are on the verge of subsistence. And then of course it is particularly difficult to look after the children at home."

Overview on the subject of coronavirus (imago / Rob Engelaar / Hollandse Hoogte)


October 27th

The KMK wants to keep the schools open and refers in its decision to recommendations of the Robert Koch Institute. Based on previous experience and studies, schoolchildren are not a driver of the pandemic. Teachers' associations, on the other hand, want alternating lessons and also refer to the RKI. There it also says: If the incidence value is over 50, alternating lessons should be introduced.

28th of October

A partial lockdown is decided: restaurants and leisure facilities have to close again, stricter contact restrictions are decided. Regular operations in schools and daycare centers should continue for the time being.

November 4th

The city of Solingen is now the place with the highest incidence value in Germany, at over 230. As a consequence, the city wants to split the classes at secondary schools and then teach them alternately on site and at a distance, as the teaching association did in October had requested.

The idea meets with local teachers and parents, but not in politics. NRW Education Minister Gebauer forbids the implementation. Gebauer: "The educational mandate for all children and young people cannot be fully fulfilled in this way. A blanket reduction leads to social disadvantage, especially for those schoolchildren who for very different reasons receive less support in their home environment."

The discussion about alternating lessons continued throughout November. Some regions are successfully switching to alternate teaching, in others it does not work because there are not enough teachers.

November 13th

Mask requirement at primary school has been a controversial topic since the beginning of the pandemic. It has been in force in Bavaria since October, there is no nationwide obligation in North Rhine-Westphalia. Education Minister Karliczek brings the mask requirement for very high numbers of infections back into play. However, the KMK again speaks out against it. The KMK also continues to reject a nationwide changeover model.

15th of November

106 schools in Germany are now completely closed - almost 200,000 students are in quarantine. So even though only a fraction of schools are affected by closings, calls for hybrid teaching are getting louder and louder.

November 26th

The November lockdown is extended. After much back and forth, the country leaders also decide during their deliberations with Chancellor Merkel that hybrid teaching should be possible in principle. However, only for pupils from the 8th grade and from an incidence value of 200. That should be decided from school to school - not across the board for entire cities or districts.

December 3rd

After previous training, teachers should be able to test themselves for Corona in the future. School authorities can obtain rapid tests for this with immediate effect. The problem: there are too few tests for too many schools.

December 14th

The year ends as it began: Due to the increasing number of infections, Germany is going into lockdown - schools are closing. "In schools, contacts should be significantly restricted. Likewise at daycare centers. This means that children - whenever possible - are looked after at home.
But there are regional differences again. In NRW, from grade 8 onwards, home schooling is to be completely switched over. With the younger ones, the parents can decide whether to send their children to school. However, the appeal is to only do that if there is a care problem.

The schools are scheduled to start again on January 11th.