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Masks, testing and sport: What are the rules for schools in Austria?

School is back in Austria from Monday onwards. Here’s what parents and students can expect.

Masks, testing and sport: What are the rules for schools in Austria?
What are the rules for school in Austria? Photo by Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash

Face to face lessons are back in Austria, although there will be a few changes to the usual way of things. 

From testing three times per week to masks, here’s what you need to know about the new rules for schools. 

When are schools going back in Austria? 

Face to face lessons will start up again on Monday, May 17th. 

This applies to both primary/elementary schools, as well as secondary schools. 

Are the lessons taught in shifts? 

Lessons will take place via face-to-face teaching for middle schools and AHS lower grades, along with elementary schools. 

Lessons take place over a five-day period, i.e. no longer in shifts on alternating days. 

What are the rules for testing? 

Students need to be tested three times per week. 

This can be either through a test at school, or an antigen or a PCR test off site. The antigen and PCR tests are valid for 48 and 72 hours respectively. 

Students who have been vaccinated or who have had the virus in the past six months do not need to take a test. 

Students who refuse to be tested will need to take part in distance learning. 

What are the rules for masks? 

Masks must be worn, although this will differ somewhat depending on the age group. 

In elementary schools, students will need to wear masks, but as of June 15th will not need to wear them in classrooms or in group rooms.  

In lower grades of high school, the masks must stay on in class – while in upper grades masks must remain on. While in May this was only FFP2 masks, from June 15th this was relaxed to be all masks, i.e. medical and cotton masks.

More information is available at the following link. 

READ MORE: Masks no longer required in schools in Austria 

Can students take part in sport? 

Physical education classes and sport can take place – including swimming – however it should happen outdoors wherever possible. 

Masks are not required. 

Contact sports are allowed, but two metres of distance should be maintained as much as possible between participants. 

Events such as sports days can take place provided they only last one day and that they “take place in strict compliance with the necessary hygiene regulations and carry out a risk assessment”.

What about other rules? 

There will be a restriction on the amount of tests and exams that can take place, with a limit of one school assignment per semester. 

The Education Ministry has said the focus of grading should be on cooperation rather than competitive assessment. 

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Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”