Most DODEA schools in Germany to return to in-person classes as coronavirus numbers drop
Stars and Stripes February 18, 2021
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KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Most schools on U.S. bases in Germany will reopen for in-person classes beginning Monday, the Department of Defense Education Activity said in a statement.
U.S. Army Garrison Baumholder schools are the only exception, the statement said Thursday. Baumholder schools will continue exclusively with online classes through at least Feb. 26 because of a recent increase in coronavirus cases in the area, the statement said.
Students enrolled in DODEA’s virtual school aren’t impacted by the change, school officials said.
The openings coincide with falling coronavirus case rates across most of Germany, where DODEA’s 34 schools have been closed for in-class learning since mid-December. Many German classrooms also are slated to reopen Monday, after closing in accordance with the country’s strict lockdown measures.
Masks will be required while in school, while riding buses and at school drop-off locations, DODEA said.
Unlike off-base locations, where German authorities require surgical masks at places such as grocery stories, cloth coverings are still acceptable at base schools, DODEA said.
“We also ask that you remind your students of the importance of wearing face coverings, maintaining social distancing, and following the instructions of school leadership,” DODEA said in a message to parents.
In Rheinland-Pfalz and Baden-Wuerttemburg, two states with many U.S. base schools, the seven-day coronavirus average incidence rates per 100,000 people on Thursday stood at 45 and 44, respectively.
Rates in Bavaria and Hesse were both at 55 per 100,000 people, according to the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s national health agency.
Rates above 50 per 100,000 people are considered to be in the country’s “red” high-risk category. Health officials have emphasized that infection rates can change quickly.
In the city and district of Kaiserslautern, home to tens of thousands of Americans, the incidence rates were 15 and 21.7 cases per 100,000 people as of Thursday, respectively.
The same rates were between 100 and 200 cases per 100,000 people for much of January.
The Birkenfeld district rate, which includes Baumholder, remained just over a weekly average 100 cases per 100,000 people as of Thursday, according to state data.