Erfurt – For weeks he insisted on face-to-face teaching despite sharp criticism. Education Minister Helmut Holter (68, left) is now making a surprising change of course and closing Thuringia’s 1000 schools by mid-January. In addition, he no longer has any mercy on those who refuse to test masks and tests, and speaks of a more stringent entry ban.

Means: Refusers are no longer allowed to go to school until further notice, should instead study independently, according to Holter. The parents of the pupils are also not entitled to emergency care. The politician announced this at a press conference on Friday afternoon. The communication to the schools should take place in the course of Wednesday afternoon. Ironically on the last day of school of the year.

The plan: On January 3rd and 4th, all Thuringian children should stay at home so that the schools can adapt to the new rules, according to Holter. The Christmas holidays were thus de facto extended by two days. Furthermore, tests should be carried out twice a week. “We have three million tests in stock. That will last until the end of January. New ones have already been ordered,” said Holter.

Emergency care is only offered for children with parents in professions in the critical infrastructure (including educators, carers, police) and up to the 6th grade as well as in special schools.

Distance lessons apply from January 5th to 14th. From January 17th, changing lessons are announced. “The schools can decide for themselves whether this is regulated on a daily or weekly basis.”

How did the drastic U-turn come about? “We drive on sight. Anyone who does this has to be able to reorient themselves, “explains Holter.

But the background is also likely to be the fear of the wave of omicron that is just beginning.

Health Minister Heike Werner (Linke) announced that there are already three confirmed cases in Thuringia. Three other suspected cases (two in Jena, one in the Ilm district) are currently being examined, it is said.

Werner: “The Omikron variant is 50 percent more contagious. There are also 30 percent milder courses, but this effect is used up by higher numbers of infections.”

For this reason, an upper limit of ten people should generally apply for private meetings by December 28th at the latest. Werner announced that he would also like to implement this in Thuringia from this date. An amended ordinance is to be announced on Thursday. Children up to twelve would then not be included.

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