With teachers in quarantine, Wiesbaden school closes classrooms for two weeks

Wiesbaden Elementary School at the Hainerberg housing area in Wiesbaden, Germany. The school is closing for two weeks due to an ongoing coronavirus outbreak on the garrison.


By JENNIFER H. SVAN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 10, 2020

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Wiesbaden Elementary School’s classrooms will be closed for two weeks following reports of at least two positive coronavirus cases at the school, officials said.

The school, also known as Hainerberg Elementary School, will use remote learning until the resumption of in-person classes scheduled for Nov. 23.

The closure comes a week after more than two dozen coronavirus cases were reported in the U.S. military community in Wiesbaden, including a confirmed case at Wiesbaden High School.

“It was not an easy decision for us to come to, to close the school for two weeks,” said Brig. Gen. Jed J. Schaertl, U.S. Army Europe’s deputy commanding general for Mobilization and Reserve Affairs, and the senior-ranking officer for the Wiesbaden military community.

“It was done out of (an) abundance of caution to protect students, teachers and the administration,” Schaertl said during a virtual town hall meeting for U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden on Monday, which was also the first day of the school’s closure.

The school on Friday was “informed that another member of our Wiesbaden ES family has tested positive for COVID-19,” principal Tonya Laliberte said in a letter to parents.

School officials did not say how many positive cases have been reported at the elementary school.

“The school is closed as a result of the number of staff that are required to quarantine as close contacts,” Stephen Smith, Department of Defense Education Activity-Europe spokesman, said in an email to Stars and Stripes.

With some staff in quarantine, the school did not have enough substitute teachers to keep the school open with “proper mitigating procedures in place,” Jason Ter Horst, DODEA-Europe East community superintendent, said Monday at the town hall meeting.

The school has a student body of 645 from pre-kindergarten to fifth grade.

Wiesbaden high and middle schools will remain open, Smith said Tuesday.

The infection rate in the city of Wiesbaden, which has a population of around 290,000, continues to rise. The city reported 735 new cases of the virus in the past seven days, increasing its infection rate to 253 per 100,000 residents, it said on its website Tuesday.

Germany’s public health agency, the Robert Koch Institute, has set an infection rate of 50 cases per 100,000 over seven days as the threshold at which urgent action needs to be taken to curb the virus.

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