“Cannot be ruled out” – FFP2 masks before returning to class

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Education Minister Martin Polaschek (ÖVP) announces that the federal government will soon have an “overarching strategy” in the fight against the corona virus. In an interview with the “OÖ-Krone” he explains why he only wants to inform schools shortly before school starts about what measures they should take and how he wants to get more teachers into the classroom again.

“OÖ Krone”:The corona figures are rising – what should schools and students prepare for in the autumn?
Martin Polaschek: A global strategy of the federal government will be presented in the coming weeks. There is a clear planning: at the end of August we will inform all schools, parents and students about the exact measures.

Is that enough just before school starts?
The longer we wait, the clearer we have a picture of the situation. Because otherwise there will be criticism that measures are taken and then changed again after two weeks. The instruments are familiar: testing, wearing a mask.

So you’re assuming we’ll have ninjapas and masks again?
As the overall situation develops, it cannot be ruled out that we will need masks again. We’ll see if we’ll be using the Ninja Pass again. We are now getting feedback from the schools.

When many teachers and students are in quarantine, it paralyzes school activities. Do you think isolation still makes sense?
That has to be decided by experts. Keeping schools open is in any case the highest priority.

In Upper Austria, parents have removed more than 1000 children from school because of the Corona rules. Many have now skipped the external exams. What are the possible consequences?
Children who do not go to school, but who also do not receive appropriate education at home, have a learning disability. We try to convince in informative conversations. If necessary, measures are also taken via the Education Directorate.

How do you plan to combat the teacher shortage that also prevails in Upper Austria?
We have introduced an attractive model for career changers. You will receive the pedagogical and didactic tools to be able to teach in schools. There is a strict selection procedure. And in the future we need an attractive image of teachers and a more positive image of schools. What almost offends me is how cliché some people berate the schools and the education system. The whole system is discredited on the basis of individual experiences.

Do you also see shortcomings in teacher training?
Two years ago, the Council for Quality Assurance started an evaluation of the new teacher training course. The results will come in the course of the summer, we eagerly await them. I am already in talks with the involved institutions about what we can improve.

In Upper Austria, there have been recent instances of cyberbullying and TikTok challenges that have been inconveniently impersonated. Do the teachers here have enough digital know-how to intercept these flows?
In the new school subject digital basic education, young people are confronted with the opportunities and dangers of digitization. There is also a very extensive range of further education and training courses for teachers. This is not mandatory, we would like to pick up interested parties.

A new technical digital university is planned in Upper Austria, but it has been criticized from many sides. Why do you think Upper Austria needs such a university?
This institution moves into interdisciplinary areas that current research and education on the ground does not address. At Kepler University we have a lot of expertise in the field of digitization and with Art University and Bruckner University in the field of art. The new university must combine the creative and digitization fields.

Source: Krone

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