Opinion Of National Academy of Sciences:

The National Academy of Sciences has presented its recommendations for a gradual return to normal: primary schools should start again with restrictions and masks in local transport should become mandatory.

How should the return to normality after the coronavirus outbreak be organized? One thing is certain: everyday life in Germany will not come back overnight.

Given the scale of the pandemic, there can only be gradual solutions - politicians have made this clear in the past few days.

On Wednesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to discuss how to proceed in a conference call with the prime ministers of the federal states.

Then it should also be decided whether the contact restrictions can be relaxed. Merkel has stated that an opinion from the Leopoldina Academy of Sciences will be an important point of reference.

Elementary school students first:

The researchers' report has already been published. Among other things, the Leopoldina is in favour of a gradual opening of schools - "as soon as possible" and differentiated according to grades.

First, the primary and lower secondary schools should gradually be reopened, the scientists write.

Secondary level I includes secondary schools, junior high schools, comprehensive schools up to class 10 and high schools up to and including classes 9 and 10.

It should begin with grade 4, i.e. the final classes, to ensure the transition to secondary schools.

To keep the distance requirement, the lessons should focus on main subjects such as math and German and should start in significantly reduced group sizes of 15 students.

Distance learning opportunities "can be used better with age," the researchers said. "It is therefore recommended that students return to their usual classes at higher levels in the education system later." 

At the universities and colleges, the summer semester should largely be completed as an online / home learning semester. The operation of daycare centres should "only be restarted to a very limited extent".

Since smaller children do not adhere to the distance rules but are transmitters, daycare centres for the younger generations should remain in emergency operation until the summer holidays.

Masks are required on buses and trains:

The scientists also advocate a mask requirement in public transport - and beyond.

"In the future, every citizen should wear such mouth-nose protection with them and wear it wherever the minimum distance is not observed," said Leopoldina President Gerald Haug, the "mirror".

That applies in the supermarket, in the office and also at work. Social, cultural and sporting events should "gradually become possible again, depending on the possible spatial distance and the contact intensity of those involved", the researchers further recommended. They mention three points as a prerequisite for normalizing public life.

Reduce economic policy measures:

The experts also call for adherence to the market economy. So the debt brake should be held within the framework of its currently applicable rules.

This allows a significantly higher level of debt, especially in times as special as the Corona crisis, but demands that it be returned when normality returns.

In general, it is said in this context that the economic policy measures taken during the crisis must be reduced or adjusted as soon as possible in favour of sustainable management within the framework of a free-market organization.

Motion tracking app:

A reliable data basis is also important for containing the pandemic. The researchers refer to the use of GPS data in combination with tracing apps, such as in South Korea.

The use of apps must be voluntary and the data would have to be deleted after a previously defined period, said Haug.

A coordinated approach is required:

The debate about easing contact restrictions due to the corona crisis has been going on for days. CDU boss Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer calls for a coordinated approach nationwide.

"It is important that we have rules that are as uniform as possible," she told the German Press Agency (DPA) with a view to the meeting on Wednesday.

There is also a firm agreement within the prime ministerial conference to be able to present a "good overall package" with the federal government. Saarland Prime Minister Tobias Hans made a similar statement.

The Kiel-based virologist Helmut Fickenscher is convinced that there is no reason to give the all-clear.

"If the protective measures were lifted, we would most likely have full hospitals in a short time," said the head of the Institute for Infectious Medicine at the University of Kiel at DPA.

Then even simple accidents could no longer be treated appropriately due to overload. "Braking must be maintained," said Fickenscher, who is also president of the German Association for Combating Viral Diseases.

The fact that the number of infections no longer increases so much is simply the result of strict protective measures.


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