Children and young students in Austria have been arguably one of the most affected groups during the Covid-19 pandemic, having been forced to study at home, wear masks in class and take mandatory PCR tests.
With the school year starting in the country in September (September 5th in eastern Austria and September 12th in the rest of the country), the federal government has announced which measures will be in place.
As Covid-19 cases – as well as hospitalisation numbers – are fairly low, almost no measures are mandatory.
‘Learning to live with corona’
The Education Ministry said the motto is “learning to live with corona”, with a goal to ensure continuous classroom teaching with targeted safety and prevention measures “depending on the risk situation”.
“Restrictions should therefore be reduced to an absolutely necessary minimum and be in line with the regulations in other areas of life,” the ministry said.
Currently, this means that schools will start without mandatory tests or an FFP2 mask mandate. However, regular tests are recommended during the first week of school.
“If possible, students should come to school on the first day tested, preferably by PCR test,” wrote Education Minister Martin Polaschek (ÖVP). In addition, antigen tests will take place in schools on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in the first week of school – also on a voluntary basis.
For the second week of school, all students can receive three antigen tests for use at home so that they can test themselves, for example, Sunday evening or Monday morning.
Antigen tests are available at the school locations for short-term tests at schools in the 2022/23 school year.
‘No school closures’
In a special ‘risk’ situation, such as when there is a confirmed Covid-19 case in class, the school could adopt measures such as ordering tests and a mask mandate.
However, distance learning can only be ordered with the permission of the Directorate of Education. “The schools must remain open – there will be no more nationwide school closure,” Education Minister Martin Polaschek said.
The Education Minister maintained that asymptomatic teachers from the secondary level are allowed to come to class despite infection as long as they wear an FFP2 mask. However, schools must provide them with their own break room, and special hygiene measures must also be observed in these rooms.
The same applies to students, who are allowed to go to school despite a positive Covid test as long as they wear a mask. However, anyone who feels sick should stay at home. “This applies to all diseases,” the minister added.
(die) Masken – masks
(der )Schulstart – school start
(die) Schulschließungen – school closures
(der) Bildungsminister – Education Minister
(der) Gesundheitsminister – Health Minister
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