Economists: Schools and daycare centers must be opened to everyone

What can lessons look like in times of the Covid-19 pandemic? For 90 economists in educational research, one thing is clear: schools and daycare centers must be reopened for all children and young people.

The new everyday school life: Lessons in a fourth grade in Hamburg.

Dhe politicians must better communicate how education in schools and daycare centers will continue. This is what more than ninety economists from educational research are calling for in a joint paper. It appeared before the federal-state consultations on Wednesday, which should also be about further easing in the education sector. The current lack of clarity leads to great uncertainty among teachers, parents and students and must be eliminated, write the researchers. They ask politicians to present the content and sequence of measures in various scenarios of the pandemic – from pessimistic to optimistic.

For the signatories of the appeal, it is clear: schools and daycare centers must be reopened for all children and young people, of course subject to the stipulation of “social distancing”. This is only possible with a combination of classroom teaching and structured distance learning. “The face-to-face lessons should be organized as small group lessons,” the paper says. “Shift lessons” at different times of the day are also conceivable. School is about mutual, interactive learning, distance teaching is about deepening. It is conceivable to concentrate on the core subjects German, mathematics and English.

It is more difficult to keep your distance in the lower grades and daycare centers. In the opinion of economists, children should be able to attend daycare for at least a few half-days. “This must be done in small groups in which chains of infection can be followed if necessary.” In addition, open-air formats should be included. Families with dependent children up to the age of around twelve should be explicitly encouraged to share care and educational responsibilities. For example, up to four families could get together and take turns or hire a specialist.

Warning of the consequences of the school closings

It is now very important to develop distance learning further, the researchers note. In their view, politics must direct schools to ensure this new form of teaching for all students. And the students would have to be obliged to report back when they have completed tasks at home. It is the task of the school authorities to organize teacher training courses on digital teaching as quickly as possible. Regular personal contact between teachers and students via video conference or at least telephone is essential. “Any missing end devices must be made available at short notice.” Should distance learning nevertheless not be possible, the affected pupils would have to be included in emergency training. For children from poor families, the researchers are also calling for “catching-up additional funding”, for example funding programs during school and day-care vacations.

They warn urgently of the serious consequences of the school closings. Not only is nothing new to be learned, but skills that have already been acquired are gradually being lost. The likelihood of dropping out of school is increasing, graduation rates could decrease. In the longer term, the risk of becoming unemployed increases.