Did school ever render you useless

"You gambled, Minister of Culture - and we parents, students and teachers lost!" A father ventures his anger

STUTTGART. Why do restaurants and hairdressers have to close when supposedly open windows are enough to ensure safe lessons? Why were personal contact restrictions imposed while students sat in full classes in the mornings? Why did children have to keep their distance in the schoolyard as they huddled in overcrowded buses on the way home? The numerous contradictions in the way the ministers of education deal with the pandemic are also causing incomprehension among parents. A single father from Baden-Württemberg is now enough. In a letter to the Minister of Culture, Susanne Eisenmann (CDU), he vented his anger - we document the letter, which is extremely readable.

“Don't get angry” is no solution, Ms. Eisenmann

An open letter to the Minister of Culture of Baden-Württemberg

Dear Mrs. Eisenmann,

As a single father and self-employed person, I am maximally affected by the corona pandemic. Like many other parents, I have been in a state of emergency for almost a year. First no lessons at all, then lessons online, after the summer vacation a wild mix of rule madness, shock ventilation and quarantine, and now the second lockdown - and right in the middle of it is the Ministry of Education that you run. Ms. Eisenmann, I wonder how long parents, students and teachers should put up with these intolerable conditions? If your only constructive suggestion to calm the situation down before Christmas was to play “Don't be annoyed” with our children, then there are still a few difficult months ahead for everyone involved.

Totally wrong strategy

I still have your soft voice in my ears. How important the well-being of our children and young people is to you. Therefore - no matter how - the schools and daycare centers had to remain open in autumn - apparently in pure benevolence and concern for the education of the “weakest” in society. The school openings after the summer holidays were right and important. You gave our children several months to take a breather. But that doesn't hide the fact that your ministry has pursued a completely wrong strategy for months. You have put all your energy into getting back to normal (pre-Corona) operations with schools fully open.

And I shouldn't be annoyed, dear Ms. Eisenmann, that your ministry had no plan B and was apparently neither prepared for a second wave, let alone for a second lockdown?

Rules and contradictions without end

Why do restaurants and hairdressers have to close when supposedly open windows are enough to ensure safe lessons? Why were personal contact restrictions imposed while the children were in full school classes in the mornings? Why did our children have to keep their distance in the school yard while they huddled in overcrowded buses on the way home? How are we supposed to make our children understand that we are no longer allowed to meet anyone privately while you want to cram the children into full classrooms again?

And I shouldn't be upset, dear Ms. Eisenmann, that your ministry has not yet managed to develop a coherent concept to organize the provision of lessons even under pandemic conditions?

Rejection of air filter systems

Ventilate, ventilate, ventilate - this was the advice from your Ministry of Culture to reduce the risk of infection with Covid-19. It should be clear to anyone who has ever seen a school from the inside that this bypasses the reality of many schools. There are likely to be thousands of classrooms in the country that cannot be properly ventilated. Mobile air filter systems could have played an important role in the fight against the spread of corona viruses in classrooms. While Bavaria has set up a funding program worth 37 million for this, dear Ms. Eisenmann, you did not allow yourself to be dissuaded from your point of view that only one thing would help against aerosols: "Ventilate, ventilate, ventilate." Even various studies that come to different results, have not yet dissuaded you from your opinion.

And I shouldn't get annoyed, dear Ms. Eisenmann, if air filters are used at the same time in the Baden-Württemberg State Ministry "primarily in the in-house canteen to protect employees or to protect participants during larger appointments"?

Hypothermic classrooms

What most have almost forgotten - our children felt the first onset of winter in Advent like never before, because ventilation was the only corona protection in the classroom that your Ministry of Education came up with in the summer. The result: learning had to be done even in the freezing cold. Our children took measurements: in many places the temperatures in the classroom fell below 15 degrees Celsius after they were ventilated. After the long break, the temperatures often dropped below 5 degrees Celsius. It was foreseeable that your "ventilation concept" would not be sustainable at low temperatures in winter.

And I shouldn't get annoyed, dear Ms. Eisenmann, when the Freiburg Administrative Court stipulates that a room for employees must not be colder than 17 degrees Celsius if they are to work in it permanently, while our children had to spend hours learning in completely overcooled classrooms, covered with thick covers ?

Failure without end

It used to be: “We can do everything except Standard German!” Since the total failure of your ministry in the corona pandemic, it should have been better said: “We can do everything except school!” Since spring it would have been time to organize schools differently: everyone Equipping classrooms with filter systems, bringing in additional teachers, renting vacant rooms to reduce the size of groups, digitally equipping students and modernizing school equipment. It was clear that a second wave was coming and there would have been enough time to prepare schools for it. However, that did not happen. Instead, in unctuous words, you pass everything on to us, the parents, the students, and the teachers.

And I shouldn't be annoyed, dear Ms. Eisenmann, that politicians have taken hundreds of billions of euros into their hands for the economy, while you are trying desperately to hide the fact that (almost) nothing has happened in schools since spring?

The taboo on school closings

Throughout the corona pandemic, you have resisted tying school closings to certain incidences. There were resolutions by the Standing Conference in which it was determined that various scenarios should be prepared - scenario A face-to-face teaching, scenario B alternating operation, scenario C distance teaching. But in practice you have not acted that way. You have always only advocated keeping the schools open and done little to prepare the schools for a new phase of distance learning. You told yourself that schools could be kept open for the devil.

And I shouldn't be upset, dear Ms. Eisenmann, that every family is wiped out between job and care because your ministry failed to prepare the schools in time for a second lockdown in the autumn? You may have had an impact on this in the media, but it was completely unnecessarily taboo.

Digital developing country

The first day of school after the Christmas holidays should have reminded everyone involved of the first school closings in spring. Instead of meeting in the online classroom for a video conference where interactive content can be conveyed, the teachers are once again only able to send exercise sheets by email. In the hope that the pupils will be able to cope with the material on their own or that they will find help from their parents who are working from home. It was the same in spring when the schools were closed for a few weeks for the first time during the corona pandemic. Ten months later, Baden-Württemberg is still far from being fit for digital distance learning. And we owe the few bright spots at best to the commitment of teachers and school administrators, and definitely not to your ministry.

And I shouldn't be annoyed, dear Ms. Eisenmann, that you steadfastly refuse to face the facts because your ministry is still unable to offer an alternative to face-to-face teaching? What is currently possible in homeschooling cannot even begin to replace normal lessons in school.

Irregular school year

Our children have had to study under special conditions for months. How should their performance in the pandemic be rated? The pandemic has had a lasting disruption to school operations and has caused massive class cancellations since March 2020. And there is currently no end in sight to the misery. Nobody can make good the damage that has been done here. This is a problem because there is no real Plan B in your ministry. You have relied on being able to do your work more or less comfortably after the weeks of chaos in spring and from the summer holidays onwards. They gambled - and we parents, students and teachers lost.

And I shouldn't be annoyed, dear Ms. Eisenmann, that you are trying to keep what you can no longer keep by constantly changing decrees and guidelines? This school year 2020/21 will not end normally and is already leaving behind deficits that our children can no longer make up for.

Cannon fodder in the election campaign

Even before the Christmas holidays you had failed with your plan to stick to the regular start of the holidays. Then you provoked a storm of indignation with a targeted dpa interview because you wanted to reopen daycare centers and primary schools "regardless of the incidence figures". It must have been clear to you from the start that you would never get away with this "project". So it was all about making headlines nationwide in order to distinguish yourself as an election campaigner.

And I shouldn't be upset, dear Ms. Eisenmann, that we parents and our children have to serve as cannon fodder for your election campaign just because you have decided to catch the headlines by opening schools?

Failed reopening

When your planned reopening of the daycare centers and primary schools at the end of January ended in a disaster due to a corona outbreak at a Freiburg daycare center, you were “completely surprised”. The roof is thrown away. For weeks they stubbornly opposed any scientific recommendation, ignored resolutions of the Prime Minister's Conference and set up protesting parent and teacher associations only to attract attention in the election campaign. And then suddenly you are surprised that your election campaign idea crashed at the last minute. Since then you have gone into hiding while we parents are out in the rain again.

And I shouldn't be annoyed, dear Ms. Eisenmann, that you suddenly emphasize that Baden-Württemberg is facing a “new challenge”, although it only becomes clear how far from reality your prayer wheel-like demands for school openings were?

A unique opportunity

The only thing that I am NOT really annoyed about, dear Ms. Eisenmann, are the state elections on March 14, 2021. Then at the latest, voters in the state will have the opportunity to evaluate their school policy in the Corona crisis. Then troubled parents, teachers and school principals can decide at the ballot box whether we no longer entrust you with “just” our children, but rather the whole country. And if you should get a lesson for your previous crisis management at the ballot box, then you know what to do ... the best thing to do is to play a game of “Don't get angry”.

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