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COVID-19 RULES

Reader question: Which Austrian states will allow Covid-infected teachers in classrooms?

Despite Covid-19 regulations in Austria allowing people to go to work if they test positive, many states have created an exception for teachers. But not all.

Reader question: Which Austrian states will allow Covid-infected teachers in classrooms?
Where in Austria can teachers work despite a Covid-19 infection? (Photo by JEFF PACHOUD / AFP)

Austria has currently very few rules when it comes to the Covid-19 pandemic. Those who test positive for the virus don’t need to go into quarantine anymore and must only wear an FFP2 mask to avoid contaminating people around them.

This means that workers can continue their jobs as long as they feel fit – if not, they can always get a doctor’s note and stay home. However, many Austrian states have created a significant exception to this rule: teachers in mandatory schooling (the Pflichtschulen).

READ ALSO: REVEALED: The Covid-19 measures for the start of the Austrian school year

Where are teachers not allowed in classrooms if they test positive for coronavirus?

Vienna and Burgenland already announced at the end of July that teachers in primary schools (the Pflichtschulen) who test positive for Covid would not be allowed to enter the classroom.

Now, Lower Austria and Salzburg have also said teachers would have to stay at home if they test positive for the virus.

“Those who are sick should go on sick leave and stay at home. For infected teachers who have no symptoms but want to go to work, we will find other solutions such as administrative activities,” said Lower Austria’s Education State Councilor Christiane Teschl-Hofmeister (ÖVP) on Monday evening.

READ ALSO: Vienna extends stricter Covid-19 rules until late October

Salzburg school teachers who test positive for Covid-19 will be released from service for five days. Furthermore, students infected with corona without symptoms are strongly advised not to attend school.

Carinthia is also “moving in that direction”, according to the daily Vienna.at. An announcement is expected for next week.

Where can teachers go to work despite a Covid-19 infection?

In Styria, Vorarlberg and Tyrol, teachers who test positive for coronavirus may continue working as long as they wear an FFP2 mask and have no symptoms.

In Styria, the education authorities asked for “personal responsibility”: “People who feel healthy despite a Covid infection can participate in school life in compliance with increased hygiene measures. This regulation applies to federal and state teachers alike.”, the Education Directorate to the APA news agency.

READ ALSO: Vienna extends stricter Covid-19 rules until late October

Tyrol said it would follow the federal government’s guidance, allowing symptom-free people to work as long as they wear an FFP2 mask. In Vorarlberg, the authorities have indicated that symptom-free teachers infected with Covid-19 will also likely be allowed to teach with an FFP2 mask. An official announcement should also come soon.

However, Upper Austria chose “the middle ground”, with only elementary school teachers not allowed into class if they test positive.

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COVID-19 VACCINES

Austria recommends 4th Covid vaccine dose for everyone over 12

Austria's autumn Covid-19 plan includes a fourth Covid-19 dose to all those older than 12 and the Health Ministry doesn't rule out further measures, especially a return of the mask mandate.

Austria recommends 4th Covid vaccine dose for everyone over 12

Austria’s Health Ministry and the country’s National Immunisation Panel (NIG) have recommended a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine to the general population ahead of autumn.

Health Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) and physician Herwig Kollaritsch of the Immunisation Panel have requested people take the vaccination before the cold months, reiterating that the Covid-19 vaccine is safe and protects against more severe courses of the disease.

“You can do a lot before autumn. Don’t wait until the numbers rise. Get vaccinated, take the booster shots”, Kollaritsch said in a press conference this Wednesday, August 31st.

READ ALSO: LATEST: The Covid rules across Austria from August 2022

The previous recommendation was only for people older than 60 or those in risk groups. “After there was already the booster recommendation for the vulnerable and over 60-year-olds over the summer, all other groups are to get a booster in the coming weeks,” the health minister said.

Only 58.9 percent of the population is currently sufficiently vaccinated, as per the recommendation of the National Immunisation Panel (NIG) – which for the majority of the population is three doses – or if they’ve had Covid then two doses and a recent recovered status.

New measures ahead of autumn

The health minister stopped short of announcing new Covid-19 measures for autumn.

When he announced the end of the mask mandate in the country back in May, Rauch had said the suspension would be “temporary” and masks were likely to return after summer, depending on the pandemic, particularly on hospitalisation numbers.

Currently, masks are obligatory in the health sector and on public transport in Vienna.

“We evaluate the situation weekly by talking with the hospital heads in the states. We have a very good view of the Covid-19 data, and we don’t rule out bringing measures back in the future”, he said.

READ ALSO: Vienna extends stricter Covid-19 rules until late October

He added: “It is likely that in the autumn, compulsory masks will again be useful and necessary in certain areas such as public transport or supermarkets,”.

For now, though, the minister said he recommends people to get vaccinated, wear masks where social distancing is not possible, and get tested regularly – even if those measures are not mandatory.

When should you get vaccinated?

The fourth vaccination should come a minimum of four months after the third one (or after a Covid-19 infection) but not after six months of the third dose (regardless of whether or not the person has had an infection after the last vaccine), according to the NIG.

READ ALSO: Reader question: Which Austrian states will allow Covid-infected teachers in classrooms?

For children between five and eleven years of age, the basic immunisation – which consists of three vaccinations – should be completed by the start of school at the latest; no booster vaccination is currently recommended in this age group.

Austria expects vaccines adapted to the omicron variant to arrive in the country before the end of September, the health minister said.

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